Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Colourful Start to Zhang's Visit

Zhang Dejiang all smiles as well as Leung Chun-ying at the airport
The big moment came just before noon today -- the highly-anticipated arrival of Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People's Congress and head of the party's leading group on Hong Kong and Macau affairs.

Police have been on high alert for anything suspicious, and even camped out on top of Lion Rock to prevent protesters from displaying banners from there.

Yellow banner on Beacon Hill demanding universal suffrage
However, the authorities were unable to stop those from the League of Social Democrats from unfurling a large yellow banner on Beacon Hill, in Lion Rock Country Park that read, "I want genuine universal suffrage", echoing the Umbrella Movement of 2014.

The police were ordered to take down the banner as soon as possible.

This shows the authorities don't have enough intelligence on activists who are planning these attention-getting incidents. How difficult can it be? They are not spies...

The LSD also hung another banner on a highway overpass along North Lantau Highway near the airport that read: "End Chinese Communist Party dictatorship".

Another calls for the end of the Communist Party dictatorship
Wonder if Zhang got to see that on his way into town...

Security is so tight around Wan Chai that it's best to avoid that area in the next few days -- ie take the MTR to bypass it.

Protests are going to be very passionate because Zhang was the top legislator in charge of the NPC's decision on Hong Kong's political reform two years ago. That was when it was decided Hong Kong voters could only choose between two to three candidates running for chief executive who had been vetted by a 1,200-strong Beijing loyalist committee.

And we all know that led to the 79-day Umbrella protests around Hong Kong...

Around 6pm this evening on Garden Road, several people holding yellow umbrellas were escorted by police. They had walked up from the HSBC headquarters to get to the former Central Government Offices. Some minor scuffles broke out, but in general the protest was peaceful.

Barriers make it near impossible to try to get near Zhang
A more sombre protest was held at Tamar, joined by half a dozen Neo Democrats, lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai placed 100 paper graves in Tamar Park to remember those who died from SARS in 2003.

The group accuses Zhang, who was governor of Guangdong at the time, of deliberately withholding information about the SARS outbreak, thus not giving Hong Kong enough time to prepare and prevent the severe acute respiratory syndrome from spreading; 299 lives were lost.

We don't know if Zhang managed to see all these protests, as he claims his visit here is to "see, listen, speak". He will probably be doing a lot of the last one, and not many of the first two...

In the meantime, we look forward to seeing the cat-and-mouse game between the police and protesters continue...

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