China’s Continual Call for Democracy Goes Unheard

Courtesy of Channel News Asia

On Tuesday, July 1,2014, tens of thousands of residents marched the downtown streets of Hong Kong during the annual pro-democracy protest. The march began in the streets of the former British colony to push for greater democracy fueled by anger over Beijing’s recent warning that the ultimate authority over the southern Chinese financial center belongs to them, Kelvin Chan of the Associate Press reports (More than 500 arrested after big HK democracy rally). The protest occurred only days after 800,000 residents voted in a mock referendum aimed at bolstering support for full democracy. Unfortunately, on Wednesday, Hong Kong police arrested more than 500 people who refused to leave a street in the city’s financial district, a day after the massive march to demand democracy that’s free from China’s interference. The march happens every year on the anniversary of the day China took over Hong Kong from British rule on June 1,1997 with the promise of autonomy for 50 years. However, the young residents of the city grow increasingly uneasy as Beijing tries to impose its authority over the freewheeling capitalist enclave, according to Chan. The fears are increasingly apparent especially after the pre-dawn crackdown of the Hong Kong police especially since actions by police as compared to mainland China have never been antagonistic.

Police confirmed that 511 people were arrested for unlawful assembly in the Central business district and prevented police from carrying out their duties. The protestors were warned to disperse and failed to do so in a timely manner forcing police to remove protestors who lay down on the streets with locked arms. The police started to evict the group at about 3 a.m., even though the protestors vowed to stay until 8 a.m. when the height of rush hour begins, with some leaving willingly and others being forcibly removed. Tuesday’s rally attracted somewhere between 98,000 and 510,000, depending on who you ask (police, organizers, researchers), while Beijing tried to keep the news of the march for democracy away from people in mainland China. The Chinese media did not report about it and comments about the protest were deleted from micro-blogs and social media, Chan reports. While China’s Communist leaders have promised to allow Hong Kong residents to vote for their leader in 2017, they have rejected calls to allow the public to name their own candidate and let a Beijing friendly committee hand pick them as it has done since the handover. Three weeks before the rally, the Chinese government released so called white papers saying Hong Kong’s autonomy is not inherent but authorized by the central government in Beijing. This move angered many protestors who on Tuesday held banners and posters urging democracy. Thousands of police kept watch and ordered the city’s trolleys to shut down to reduce overcrowding.