Monday, 22 September 2014

The Political Gulf Widens

Secondary and university students descended on the campus of CUHK today
Some 13,000 secondary and university students cut classes today to protest Beijing's decision to restrict electoral reforms for 2017. They gathered at Chinese University of Hong Kong wearing white T-shirts and yellow ribbons symbolizing their push for democracy.

They plan to strike for a week in the lead up to Occupy Central on October 1, by gathering at government offices at Tamar these few days.

"The student strike will mark the turning point of the democratic movement," said Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, to the crowd at the university campus. "We will not have illusions in the government anymore, but we'll have faith in ourselves. We are willing to pay the price for democracy."

The strikers are angry the Central government has decided candidates running for chief executive in 2017 onwards must have at least 50 percent of the votes from the nominating committee which is pro-Beijing.

Lee Shau-kee doesn't want Occupy Central to ruin Hong Kong
Despite negotiations, the Chinese government has refused to budge, and in fact become even more stringent than the requirements for the 2012 election.

"Preselected candidates by a controlled nominating committee can only represent vested interests, but not the general public," Chow said, urging the Hong Kong government to push for public nominations and reform the legislature.

"If we hear nothing from them, the students, the people, will definitely upgrade the movement to another level," he said.

The students are not alone -- about 380 academics and teaching support staff have signed a petition supporting their pupils, saying "Don't let the striking students stand alone".

"As teachers and as citizens, we are pained and outraged to see the advancement of democracy in Hong Kong stifled and suppressed," said their statement. "Our hope in Hong Kong's future lies in the passion and spirit shown by our young people and their willingness to take up the mantle in the fight for democracy and social justice.

"Yet while the students are pure of heart, they have recently become subject to unreasonable smears and attacks. We appeal to all sectors of society... do not let them stand alone to face the white terror," meaning political suppression.

The strike today coincides with 70 Hong Kong tycoons -- do we really have that many? -- to Beijing for an audience with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The contingent includes Li Ka-shing, Lee Shau-kee, Henry Cheng Kar-shun, Peter Woo Kwong-ching, Pansy Ho Chiu-king and Michael Kadoorie.

As usual they were predictable in their words of warning, saying Occupy Central would have a "negative impact" on the city.

"Hong Kong is a financial centre, and if the main financial district is messed up, then Hong Kong will be ruined," property developer Lee said.

As one can see from his statement, these billionaires aren't interested in universal suffrage, or Hong Kong people becoming more political active. All they seem to care about is making more and more money, and any rocking of the boat would ruin their quiet time counting all their riches...

It seems the tycoons try to act like spokespeople, or interpreters for the Chinese government, but it's not working anymore. It's obvious they are living in a parallel universe that has no connection with the lives of the average citizens in Hong Kong.

Which is why there will not be much bridging the gap between China and Hong Kong when the tycoons are siding with Beijing and hardly sympathetic with what the students (and some members of the general public) are striving for.

And so Occupy Central will probably go ahead as planned...

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