The people of Hong Kong are fighting for back against China’s strict hold on the region’s voting practices in an act of civil disobedience being dubbed “Occupy Central.” Peaceful protestors have been flooding the streets amid clashes with authorities for the last several days, drawing comparisons to what the world watched in Ferguson.
Hong Kong’s mostly student-led protests are a result of the Chinese government’s formerly change in it’s “one country, two systems” policy killing a democratic voting system in the city of more than 7 million. The objections have been met with force by authorities. Images of protestors holding their hands was almost immediately linked to Ferguson’s “hand up, don’t shoot” movement, and like authorities in the Midwestern city, Hong Kong police have responded with tear gas and pepper spray. Demonstrators have been using umbrellas, goggles, and ponchos, to protect themselves.
The government blocked Instagram to prevent main landers from seeing photos of the turbulence.
Pro-democracy protesters, some wearing surgical masks and holding up umbrellas to protect against tear gas, expanded their rallies throughout Hong Kong on Monday, defying calls to disperse in a major pushback against Beijing’s decision to limit democratic reforms in the Asian financial hub.
Police officers tried to negotiate with protesters camped out on a normally busy highway near the Hong Kong government headquarters that was the scene of tear gas-fueled clashes that erupted the evening before.
An officer with a bullhorn tried to get them to clear the way for the commuters. A protester, using the group’s own speaker system, responded by saying that they wanted Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to demand a genuine choice for the territory’s voters.
“Do something good for Hong Kong. We want real democracy!” he shouted.
China has called the protests illegal and endorsed the Hong Kong government’s crackdown. The clashes — images of which have been beamed around the world — are undermining Hong Kong’s image as a safe financial haven, and raised the stakes of the face-off against President Xi Jinping’s government. Beijing has taken a hard line against threats to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power, including clamping down on dissidents and Muslim Uighur separatists in the country’s far west.
The mass protests are the strongest challenge yet to Beijing’s decision last month to reject open nominations for candidates under proposed guidelines for the first-ever elections for Hong Kong’s leader, promised for 2017. Instead, candidates must continue to be hand-picked by Beijing — a move that many residents viewed as reneging on promises to allow greater democracy in the semi-autonomous territory.
Unrest has caused delays and reroutes in public transportation and school closers around Hong Kong. As of now, the Chinese government doesn’t have plans to call in its army to calm the unrest.
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