Nation & World News

Open Elections Ruled Out In Hong Kong; Potential Showdown Looms

By Frank Langfitt on August 31st, 2014

China’s National People’s Congress on Sunday rejected calls for open elections for Hong Kong’s next chief executive. The Chinese government said nominees must be chosen by a committee, which is expected to be filled with people who tilt towards Beijing.

“The Chief Executive shall be a person who loves the country and loves Hong Kong,” the Congress said in a statement, which underscored that loyalty to the mainland government is a must.

The decision, which was expected, appears to put the authoritarian government in Beijing on a collision course with the territory’s increasingly aggressive democracy movement, including the group Occupy Central, which has pledged to shut down the city’s financial district with a mass sit-in.

Benny Tai, the group’s leader, told a crowd of a few thousand that turned out in the rain on Sunday night that Hong Kong would now enter an “era of civil disobedience.” Tai said organized protests would begin with student strikes, but did not lay out a timetable.

Martin Lee, founding chairman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, said Beijing was “cheating” Hong Kongers of true democracy.

“Beijing can now select the candidates, puppets of course,” he told the crowd in the city’s Tamar Park, which is next to the chief executive’s office and overlooks Victoria Harbor. “We want genuine universal suffrage, not democracy with Chinese characteristics.”

When Hong Kong — a former British colony — returned to China in 1997, Beijing promised people there a high degree of autonomy and pledged that their way of life, which includes free speech, a free press and rule of law, would not change for 50 years.

Many, though, now feel their freedoms are eroding under mainland political pressure. Last week, officials from Hong Kong’s otherwise well-respected Independent Commission Against Corruption raided the home of billionaire Jimmy Lai, who owns the independent Apply Daily newspaper. Lai is a huge critic of China’s Communist Party and is apparently a major financial backer of the territory’s pro-democracy movement. Some in Hong Kong saw the raid as an attempt to intimidate democratic activists.

The Communist Party, on the other hand, is wary of losing control over Hong Kong, a wealthy, sophisticated financial center that can sometimes be seen by mainland visitors as a more open alternative to the mainland’s politically repressive system.

Chinese officials have long argued that Western-style democracy is not appropriate for the world’s most populous country, which is very difficult to govern and has had a tumultuous and often bloody political past.

A successful, open election in Hong Kong — despite the territory’s very different history — might make it harder for the Communist Party to continue to make that argument over time. It also might embolden democracy advocates on the mainland.

On Saturday, China’s People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, said some in Hong Kong were working with outside forces to interfere with the governance of the territory.

“Not only are they undermining Hong Kong’s stability and development, but they’re also attempting to turn Hong Kong into a bridgehead for subverting and infiltrating the Chinese mainland,” the article said. “This can absolutely not be permitted.”

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Thailand Blocks Access To Damaging Human Rights Report

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said this week that six months after a coup toppled the country’s elected government, the regime arrests its opponents and censors the media.


WTO Members Approve Historic Trade Deal

The World Trade Organization’s 160 members unanimously approved a first-ever multilateral trade deal which the group believes will boost global commerce by $1 trillion annually.


Women gather in the courtyard at the home of the two young victims' family in the village of Katra Sahadatganj in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.  India's largest state is under pressure to address atrocities against women.

Indian Investigators Deny Village Girls Were Raped, Murdered

Villagers said the two “untouchable” caste girls were gang-raped and then hanged from a tree in May, but the country’s equivalent of the FBI now says there was no rape and that they hanged themselves.


A closed circuit security camera shows Afghan security forces responding to an attack on a compound in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday.

Attacks In The Afghan Capital Kill 5

A suicide bomb attack on a British diplomatic vehicle killed five people, including a British national. Later, a blast and gunfire were heard in the city’s diplomatic area.


The lowest gas prices in years are seen Wednesday on a fuel sign in Lawrence, Kan. A day later, OPEC decided to maintain current production levels, virtually ensuring continued low prices at the pump.

Oil Prices Tumble After OPEC Holds Firm On Output

Ministers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting in Austria could not agree to cut production in an effort to stabilize global crude prices.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments