For 79 days last year, thousands of protesters occupied major roads in Hong Kong in an attempt to force Chinese authorities to grant the territory genuine democracy. They failed. Local leaders and their overlords in Beijing refused to negotiate over an electoral plan that would allow for a popular vote for Hong Kong’s next leader but would limit candidates to nominees approved by the Communist regime. That left opposition representatives in Hong Kong’s legislature with an unappealing choice this month: Sign off on the inadequate reform or block it at the risk of freezing the current, even less democratic, system in place. “To kowtow, or to veto,” was the way opposition leader Alan Leong summed up the dilemma.
China: No ‘international norms’ for electoral system mentioned in Basic Law, says CY Leung | South China Morning Post
The Basic Law does not stipulate that the city’s electoral system must meet international norms, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said yesterday, in remarks some scholars saw as a tactic to justify a possible crackdown on Occupy Central. Speaking as the National People’s Congress Standing Committee met in Beijing to discuss a framework for reform ahead of the city’s first democratic chief executive election in 2017, Leung said: “The Basic Law simply does not state the term ‘international standards’.” He made the remarks in reference to the demands of the Occupy movement, which has threatened to rally volunteers to block streets in the heart of the city if Beijing fails to allow a model for universal suffrage that conforms with accepted international standards.
Participation in an informal poll to gauge Hong Kong’s desire for democracy is exceeding expectations, helped on Sunday by hundreds of volunteers who are reaching potential voters in subway stations and shopping malls, bringing American-style retail politics to one small corner of the People’s Republic of China. Three days into a 10-day voting period, more than 689,000 ballots had been cast, equal to almost one-fifth of the number of registered voters in Hong Kong, a former British colony that was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Organizers had publicly said they hoped for at least 100,000 participants in the poll, which has been condemned as “illegal and invalid” by the central government in Beijing. Most votes have been cast online — on computers through a website or by smartphones with an app — but on Sunday, polling centers opened across Hong Kong, and people voted in curtained booths. The poll is nonbinding and does not have the backing of the Hong Kong government.
China: Hong Kong Votes for Autonomy – the chief executive gave in to protesters on the election eve | Wall Street Journal
Parents, students, hunger strikers, pop stars and other public figures camped out around Hong Kong government offices last week demanding that the government scrap a requirement that state-funded schools teach children to love the motherland and respect the Communist Party. The confrontation took on a nastier tone, and the crowds swelled, after pro-Beijing media suggested that the protesters were pawns of the American and British governments. This showdown put the current Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in an awkward position, since Beijing’s local representatives insisted that the education plan go ahead. He capitulated on the eve of the weekend election of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and announced instead that the classes would no longer be mandatory. (Legco will soon negotiate the system under which the next chief executive will be elected by universal suffrage in 2017). That probably saved pro-Beijing candidates from a disastrous showing, but the controversy still helped pro-democracy candidates win 27 out of 70 seats in the legislature. That’s not as many as they hoped for, but then the convoluted electoral system is rigged against pro-democracy candidates. They garnered almost 60% of the popular vote, up from 57% in 2008, and won 39% of the seats. Most importantly, they have enough votes to block any plans from Beijing to curtail civil liberties. Many of the new lawmakers are more radical than their predecessors.
Hong Kong voters go to the polls Sunday with their government mired in controversy, not least for the attempt this week to force “national education classes” on school children. With more seats in the legislature being decided on the basis of one-person-one-vote, the city’s pro-Beijing administration faces a challenging future as democrats look to make electoral gains before the anticipated introduction of universal suffrage in 2017. Sunday’s election in Hong Kong will see over half of the legislature’s 70 seats returned by universal suffrage, the remainder by generally pro-Beijing groups. The vote is likely to prove a defining moment for the city’s new leader, chief executive Leung Chun-ying.
Hong Kong just had its new ‘chief executive officer’ — Leung Chun-ying — sworn in during a ceremony on Sunday, while on the island people took to the streets in protest. Leung Chun-ying, of course, was surely not on any ballot. According to Reuters and Agence France Presse reports on the ground in the former British colony of Hong Kong, tens of thousands of protestors filled the streets of the financial district Sunday, saying there was nothing to cheer in their new leader Leung Chun-ying, a millionaire property consultant seen as close to China’s communist rulers. During the swearing in ceremony with Chinese President Hu Jintao, protesters disrupted a speech with calls for a modern democracy.