China needs to pay attention to the demands of Hong Kong residents who feel they were promised democracyby George Magnus / September 29, 2014 / Leave a comment
Whether or not he actually said it, Harold MacMillan is credited with answering a question about what he feared most about being Prime Minister with the phrase “Events, my dear boy, events.” Chinese President Xi Jinping may now be feeling much the same as civil disobedience in Hong Kong turns into something approximating a popular rebellion. It is impossible to foretell the course of events on the streets over the next few days, let alone weeks. But the trouble in Hong Kong represents the first serious and mass challenge to the authority of the President since he was installed at the end of 2012. It seems probable that the “one country, two systems” principle under which Hong Kong has existed as a special region of the Chinese mainland since British rule over the island ended is quickly morphing from a motif to an epitaph.
The Occupy Central movement, launched in Hong Kong last year, had already planned to use the Chinese national holiday on Wednesday 1st October as an opportunity to rally people to protest Beijing’s plans for universal suffrage for the election of the island’s ruling Chief Executive in 2017, and Legislative Council in 2020. Beijing wants to nominate the candidates for the former, for example, and regards Occupy’s demands for civic nomination of candidates as outside the Basic Law. But the catalyst for the current outbreak of unrest were Hong Kong students who began a strike a week or so ago in protest against Beijing’s political reform plans for Hong Kong. Occupy brought forward its own protest plans, and it all kicked off, so to speak, over the weekend just gone.