Close to half a million protesters demonstrated in Hong Kong Tuesday, demanding democracy and chanting, “Our own government, our own choice.”
The march came days after nearly 800,000 residents participated in an informal vote, organized by the pro-democracy group Occupy Central with Love and Peace, expressing their desire for democratic process to elect the city’s top official in 2017. Beijing dismissed that vote as illegal and attempted to suppress the results in the media.
Three weeks before that, the Chinese Cabinet issued a white paper that “emphasised Beijing’s ‘comprehensive jurisdiction’ over Hong Kong and raised concerns that the city’s high degree of autonomy and independent judiciary is under threat,” according to the South China Morning Post. Britain returned control of the capitalist city-state to China on July 1, 1997, with the promise of a high degree of autonomy.
“The Chinese government is trying to go back on their promises with the white paper, and I’m here to take a stand against that,” Edward Ho, a 17-year-old student, told Bloomberg News.
According to the New York Times, the demonstrators are younger and more committed to change than Hong Kong protesters have been in the past, while Beijing supporters are also taking a harsher stance. “A showdown is getting more and more inevitable by the day, and some degree of violence is imminent,” Lau Nai-keung, one of Beijing’s most prominent allies in Hong Kong, told the Times.
— Tom Grundy (@tomgrundy) July 1, 2014