Battle for Hong Kong intensifies as thousands take to the streets

Leading the pack against Beijing,
Leading the pack against Beijing

Thousands protested in Hong Kong on Wednesday pressing China to allow full democracy in the city as a battle intensifies over Beijing’s attempts to control the outcome of a planned direct election for the city’s leader in 2017.

Beijing had promised direct elections in the former British colony as the goal for 2017, but the devil is in the details of the rules governing who can run.

Pressure has been building between democratic forces in the financial hub, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, and China’s stability-obsessed Communist Party leaders who fear a rival democrat being voted into office.

Protesters at the annual New Year’s Day democracy rally shouted slogans demanding full democracy in 2017, with a key condition being the open nominations of candidates so that anyone, including China critics, can run for office.

In March 2013 organisers of the “Occupy Central” movement, Benny Tai, Reverend Chu Yiu-ming and Chinese University’s Sociology professor Chan Kin-man officially announced at a news conference that they will start promoting the protest in 2014 if the government’s proposals for universal suffrage fail to meet international standards

But Chinese officials and leftist newspapers have rejected that, citing the city’s mini-constitution that states all nominees must be endorsed by a 1,200-strong election committee, which is stacked with Beijing loyalists. – Reuters