China: Student Leaders Plead Not Guilty

Three prominent student leaders of last year’s Occupy campaign have pleaded not guilty in Eastern Court to charges arising out of a protest at the forecourt of government headquarters in Tamar.

The three are the convenor of the student activist group Scholarism, Joshua Wong, the Secretary-General of the Federation of Students, Nathan Law, and the former secretary-general of the federation, Alex Chow.

Wong is accused of taking part in an unlawful assembly and inciting others to do so as well. Law faces one charge of inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly, while Chow is accused of taking part in an unlawful assembly.

The offences are alleged to have been committed on September 26, 2014. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] New Weapon in Hong Kong

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China Stock Markets: Sharpest Dive Since 2007

China-Selloff

China’s stock markets suffered their sharpest daily fall since the global financial crisis on Monday, with the government withholding support at a time when investors world-wide have been rattled by volatile selling in China and a slowdown in its economy. As WSJ’s Chao Deng and Anjani Trivedi report:

The Shanghai Composite Index’s loss of 8.5% by Monday’s close was its largest daily percentage decline since February 2007. Today’s performance reminded investors of an 8.5% drop on July 27, when worries mounted that authorities were pulling back on measures to prop up the market.

Monday’s performance erased Shanghai’s gains for the year, reverberated across Asia and weighed on global markets at an inopportune time for China. Next week, it will host world leaders for a memorial parade meant to show off its military power and increasing clout on the global stage. In addition, Chinese President Xi Jinping is slated to visit the U.S. next month. But a global selloff was already gathering pace by late afternoon in Asia, with European stocks and U.S. stock futures falling sharply. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Hong Kong Woman’s Cuckoo Bananas Post-Breakup Meltdown Goes Viral 

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 at RocketNews24 writes: There are a handful of accepted stages people go through when dealing with heartbreak. First, there is denial. Then, bargaining. Then, relapse. Anger. Acceptance. Then, finally, hope, as the subject of the breakup looks to the future and finally finds something worth looking forward to.

Or, if you’re this Chinese woman traveling in Hong Kong, you just lie down on the ground and shout at anyone and everyone who will listen until the police carry you away.

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The scorned woman apparently received a text message from her boyfriend of several years with the news that it just wasn’t working out, and instead of confronting the reality of her ex kind of being a jerk and moving on with her life, she instead decided to just shut down completely, sprawling out on the ground in the middle of Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui disctrict, a major tourist hub famous for its shopping and nightlife.

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She reportedly spent the next hour or more shouting nonsense at passersby, many of whom unfortunately possessed camera-equipped phones with which to record the poor woman’s meltdown, eventually landing the lady a spot on the Chinese news broadcasts, where her breakdown was treated as a sideshow not unlike a video of a pet doing something ridiculous… Read the rest of this entry »


CRACKDOWN: China’s Censors Scramble to Contain Online Fallout After Tianjin Blast

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Censorship rates on Weibo up tenfold after the Tianjin blast 

Eva DouEva-Dou reports: The Tianjin warehouse explosion has horrified and gripped China’s netizens, with the topic racking up more views on social network Weibo than the country’s total population of nearly 1.4 billion.

It’s also sent the country’s Internet censors scrambling to make sure online discussion stays within approved confines.

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Censorship rates on Weibo were up tenfold after the Tianjin blast compared to earlier in the month, said King-wa Fu, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong’s journalism school who built censorship tracker Weiboscope.

Censorship of traditional and social media is common in China after disasters and has actually been looser this time than in some other recent tragedies. Whereas China’s local newspapers turned into clones after the capsizing of a ship on the Yangtze River in June, Chinese media reports on the explosion in Tianjin’s Tanggu district have been more varied. Discussion of the topic has also been widespread on social media.

[Read more here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

But some online comments go too far, such as those that criticize the government’s response or discuss the chemicals inside the warehouse, which officials say they have not yet been able to identify. Those types of postings have been scrubbed, according to Weiboscope and another censorship-tracking site, Free Weibo. Read the rest of this entry »


After Arrests, Hong Kong Government Quietly Deletes Articles Gushing About Uber

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Laurel Chor writes: While the city’s Type-A, over-privileged, impatient residents complained about yesterday’s arrests of Uber drivers and debated whether that sounded the death knell for the company’s services in Hong Kong, InvestHK quietly erased online evidence that it once gushed about the car-hailing app.

In May, InvestHK, a government department that aims to “attract and retain foreign direct investment”, published a piece proudly talking about the company’s decision to launch in Hong Kong.

Sam Gellman, Uber’s Asia expansion lead, happily provided pro-Hong Kong quotes for the article: “Hong Kong is an incredible city, combining global commerce and local culture, large industry and startup entrepreneurship and innovation. It makes a fantastic regional headquarters for us as expand into the Greater China area.”

InvestHK continued to boast that it had provided Uber with “significant support, including information on public transportation and advice on market entry strategy prior to its launch.

Uber is now probably pretty pissed, and InvestHK likely a widdle bit embarrassed, as the Hong Kong police arrested five Uber drivers and raided the company’s local office, taking away three people. The police said that the drivers were “illegally driving cars for rental purpose” and for operating “without third-party insurance”. Whoopsies! Read the rest of this entry »


The Day the Music Died: China Blacklists 120 Songs for ‘Morality’ Violations

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How do you boost a song’s popularity? In China, now there’s a new option: put it on a government blacklist.

Hu Xin reports: China’s Ministry of Culture this week banned 120 songs for “containing content that promotes sex, violence or crime, or harms public morality.” According to a notice posted on the ministry’s website late Monday, streaming music sites and karaoke parlors must remove the offending songs within 15 days or else face an unspecified “severe punishment.” The songs are also banned from commercial performance.

Of the 120 blacklisted tunes, many contain explicit language or touch on amorous themes, with lyrics about “making love” and “one night stands.”

“You see why China will never have its own Eminem now. Hip-hop is popular in America because you can sing everything you want.”

— Music fan on Weibo

Some stars such as Taiwan’s Ayal Komod and MC Hotdog have songs that made the list. Yet about one-fifth of the banned songs were penned by two Chinese hip-hop groups, In 3 and Xinjiekou. While lauded by fans of the genre, the two bands – who sing about their daily lives and sometimes voice their anger towards society — are little-known outside mainland hip-hop circles.

“Have they really listened to those songs or did they just judge them based on their titles?”

MC Han, one of the founders of Xinjiekou, told China Real Time in a phone interview Tuesday that he is not frustrated by the sudden blacklisting of eight of his songs.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

“It actually serves as a reminder for composers like us and helps guide our music creation,” he said of the ban. “Those songs were written to express our true feelings when we were less mature.”

“We aim to spread ‘positive energy’ and an optimistic attitude through hip-hop,” he added, borrowing a signature phrase of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Read the rest of this entry »


Sweaty Balls in Hong Kong

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HOTTEST DAY IN HISTORY: Hong Kong on Saturday recorded its hottest day since authorities began taking temperature readings 130 years ago, due to the influence of a nearby typhoon.

The daily maximum temperature hit 36.3 degrees Celsius, the Hong Kong Observatory said, with higher temperatures recorded in some parts of the city earlier in the day.

A layer of haze hung over the metropolis of seven million, as people wielding electric fans and umbrellas tried in vain to beat the boiling heat.

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“This is a new record,” a Hong Kong Observatory spokesman told AFP.

“Today, the recorded daily maximum… was 36.3 degrees Celsius,” he said, adding that the previous hottest days on record occurred in 1900 and 1990, when a temperature of 36.1 degrees Celsius was recorded. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Who’s the Champion of the Panda Kingdom? 37-Year-Old Senior Citizen ‘Jai Jai’ Breaks World Record in Hong Kong

Jai Jai has become the world’s oldest captive panda at the grand old age of 37, entering the history books and breaking a 16-year-old record, from her home in Ocean Park, Hong Kong.


[VIDEO] End of the Umbrella Revolution: ‘Hong Kong Silenced’


In September 2014, VICE News documented the birth of the so-called Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. When students organized a weeklong strike to protest China’s handling of the local election process, the government responded with tear gas.

Thousands of Hong Kong residents took to the city’s streets in solidarity with the students and the protesters occupied several major roads for weeks on end.

[Read more about the Umbrella Movement at punditfromanotherplanet.com]

Nearly two months into the occupation, the demands and resolve of the protesters remained unchanged. They started to become fatigued and divided against each other, however, and public support for their cause began to decline. The movement was under immense pressure to either escalate their action, or to retreat and give back the streets.

When VICE News returned to Hong Kong near the end of 2014 to check in on the protesters, we witnessed the final days of the Umbrella Movement’s pro-democracy demonstrations.

Watch “Hong Kong Rising

Read “Hong Kong Leader Warns Concessions Could Lead to ‘Anarchy,’ as Scuffles Break Out in ParliamentRead the rest of this entry »


Disillusionment Among Hong Kong’s Youth Fuels Uneasy Separatist Longings

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The youngsters are members of a new front that is using increasingly aggressive tactics to demand an independent Hong Kong free from mainland China’s grip.  

Viola Zhou and Claire Baldwin report: On a recent Sunday night in the working-class Hong Kong district of Mong Kok, a group of radical young activists swore through loudspeakers and gestured rudely as they denounced mainland Chinese as “prostitutes” and “barbarians.”

The youngsters are members of a new front that is using increasingly aggressive tactics to demand an independent Hong Kong free from mainland China’s grip.

Their separatist yearnings have alarmed Beijing and the pro-Beijing Hong Kong government which are fighting back to win hearts and minds and forge a spirit of “love China, love Hong Kong” with multimillion-dollar information drives and exchanges.

The animosity on display in Mong Kok was virtually unheard of until recently, despite resentment toward mainlanders flooding into Hong Kong, and follows unsuccessful protests to demand full democracy in the city late last year.

The 'Umbrella Revolution' rallies together again after the October 21 talks

“I never call myself Chinese at school because it is a shame to be Chinese,” said 16-year-old “Gorilla” Chan, who, unbeknownst to his parents, founded a radical group with a 14-year-old friend.

He said violence is almost inevitable.

“That day will come sooner or later if Hong Kong remains like this,” Chan said.

Beijing sees national unity as sacrosanct and has ruled Hong Kong under a “one country, two systems” formula, allowing broad autonomy, since the city returned from British rule in 1997.

But Hong Kong’s prodemocracy movement, spearheaded by fresh-faced youngsters, has shaken the assumption of cozy accommodation between the mainland’s communists and the capitalist enclave.

The protesters demanded full democracy in a 2017 election for the city’s leader. But Beijing insists the leader will be chosen from a list of candidates it approves.

The anti-China radicals were galvanized by the democracy protests and gained traction later during protests against mainland shoppers swamping Hong Kong and buying up various items, including formula milk, and pushing up prices. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Web Censors Not Happy About Uniqlo’s Changing-Room Sex Viral Video

Uniqlo sex video: Police investigate smartphone footage showing couple doing the ‘secret communist handshake’ in Uniqlo’s Beijing flagship store changing room

Laura Lorenzetti reports: A sex tape filmed in a changing room of Uniqlo’s Beijing flagship store went viral on Chinese social media, sending national authorities into a tizzy.

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“Uniqlo, which is owned by Fast Retailing, denies any such association, releasing a statement that customers should ‘abide by social ethics, maintain social justice and correctly and properly use the fitting spaces.’”

The short video, which features a black-clad male having sex with a naked woman, was condemned by Chinese officials as going “severely against socialist core values,” according to the South China Morning Post.

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Internet censors scrambled to ban and eliminate the clip after it spread across popular social networks like Weibo and WeChat Tuesday. It has reportedly been removed from the Internet by the Cyberspace Administration of China and an investigation has been launched to find out who made the clip.

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Chinese authorities have also ordered social media executives to help uncover the source of the video, while Uniqlo has come under fire for using it as a publicity ploy. Read the rest of this entry »


The Cultural Revolution Spreads to Hong Kong

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Because that’s how we roll: The Communist Party’s way of doing business is coming to the city

Stephen Vines writes: The dark days of China’s Cultural Revolution are being revisited in Hong Kong.

Thankfully, this time there is no bloodshed or widespread mayhem. But Beijing’s local loyalists are using some of the same rhetorical tactics to isolate and intimidate pro-democracy figures.

“Now in Hong Kong opposition politicians and their supporters are routinely accused of consorting with and being funded by foreign powers; of advocating the violent overthrow of the state; and of perpetrating child abuse—the last charge based on the large numbers of young people who joined Hong Kong’s antigovernment protests.”

Back then the search was on for “traitors” who were named, shamed and then terrorized, often to a fatal degree. Now in Hong Kong opposition politicians and their supporters are routinely accused of Chinese leader Xi Jinpingconsorting with and being funded by foreign powers; of advocating the violent overthrow of the state; and of perpetrating child abuse—the last charge based on the large numbers of young people who joined Hong Kong’s antigovernment protests.

“Less-high-profile individuals have also encountered employment problems. RTHK, the public broadcaster, is under relentless pressure to sack certain people. And in privately owned media, columnists have been removed and other journalists have been told that the time has come to toe the line.”

These sorts of accusations are routinely found on the pages of Hong Kong’s increasingly rabid Communist newspapers. While largely ignored by the bulk of the population, these publications are carefully scrutinized by the leaders of the local government because their content enjoys Beijing’s imprimatur.

“The Communist press has also been in the forefront of a wider campaign to “expose” the democratic movement’s leaders, accusing them of being in the pocket of overseas governments and in receipt of illicit funding.”

One of their current targets is Johannes Chan, former dean of the law school at Hong Kong University and a respected professor. His main “crime” is his association with another legal scholar, Benny Tai. Mr. Tai was one of the founders of the Occupy Central movement that morphed into the Umbrella Movement street protests last year.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

The communist press has been busy darkly hinting that Prof. Chan is somehow involved in unlawful funding of the protest movement and that he neglected his academic duties. Following these accusations, his appointment to a pro-Vice Chancellor post was blocked.

Another academic targeted was political scientist Joseph Cheng, who was demoted prior to retirement and threatened with a denial of his pension. The accusations in this instance were even more extreme, ranging from charges of plagiarism to abuse of office.

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The Communist press has also been in the forefront of a wider campaign to “expose” the democratic movement’s leaders, accusing them of being in the pocket of overseas governments and in receipt of illicit funding. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Pancake Man’: Chinese Super Hero Movie Heads For U.S.

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 reports: Chinese super hero comedy “Pancake Man (“Jian Bing Man),” which features cameos from Jean-Claude van Damme, is set to get a North American release on July 24.

Pancake” and Hong Kong-made sports action picture “To The Fore” will both be distributed by Milt Barlow’s specialty company Asia Releasing on behalf of rights holder Magnum Films.

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Jian Bing Man,” which is a Wanda Pictures release in China, is the tale of a street pancake vendor who gains super powers from the breakfast dishes he serves. It is directed by Da Peng and stars Chinese actors Ada Liu (“Badges of Fury”) and Yuan Shanshan (“One Day”) and includes Hong Kong comedy favorites Eric Tsang and Sandra Ng. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTOS] Rare Photos of Sean and John Lennon in Hong Kong, 1977

Sean and John Lennon in Hong Kong, 1977 (3)

vintage everyday has a small collection of rare photos of John Lennon traveling in Hong Kong in May 1977 with Sean, who was about two years old, and was on his way to meet Yoko in Japan.

Sean and John Lennon in Hong Kong, 1977 (6) Sean and John Lennon in Hong Kong, 1977 (4)

[See more…]

vintage everyday


Volatility, Chaos, Panic, Despair: Greeks Freak

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Sarkis Zeronian reports: The value of the euro compared to major peer currencies is already dropping as the financial effects of the Greek ‘No’ vote in Sunday’s referendum filter into the global market. With analysts predicting banks facing funding crises and individuals unable to take their money from ATMs, volatility is set to reign for some time.

“It was not the only currency to lose value. The Aussie fell 0.9 per cent to 74.52 U.S. cents, the first time it’s broken 75 cents since 2009, and New Zealand’s dollar slipped 0.6 per cent.”

Bloomberg reports analysts are tipping the investment winners in the situation to be Treasuries and German bunds, benefiting from a “flight to safety”.

“This was also related to regional difficulties involving China where initial public offerings were suspended, as brokerages pledged to buy shares and the state media tried to limit investor panic as officials intensified efforts to stop the steepest plunge in equities the country has seen since 1992.”

With currencies trading throughout the day, the euro began to fall as soon as the outcome of the referendum became clear, even with most traders in Tokyo and Hong Kong yet to reach their desks. The drop is said to herald the start of what is expected to be a volatile week for global financial markets as institutions such as JPMorgan Chase & Co say Greece exiting the eurozone is now the base-case scenario.

The euro lost 1.1 per cent to $1.0992 by 6:12 a.m. Tokyo time, its weakest level since 29 June, also slipping 1.7 per cent against the yen and 1 per cent versus the pound. Greece may only account for less than 2 per cent of eurozone output, but a ‘Grexit’ risks setting a precedent of reversible membership.

It was not the only currency to lose value. The Aussie fell 0.9 per cent to 74.52 U.S. cents, the first time it’s broken 75 cents since 2009, and New Zealand’s dollar slipped 0.6 per cent. This was also related to regional difficulties involving China where initial public offerings were suspended, as brokerages pledged to buy shares and the state media tried to limit investor panic as officials intensified efforts to stop the steepest plunge in equities the country has seen since 1992. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Wow, Pulled Back the Wrong Side Throttle’

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Official report confirms that the crash that left 43 people dead was caused by an engine malfunctioning and a pilot mistakenly shutting down the other

Andrea Chen and Sijia Jiang report: The captain of the TransAsia aircraft that crashed into a river in Taipei in February, killing 43 people, shut down the plane’s only working engine by mistake after the other had failed, a report by accident investigators confirmed on Thursday.

“Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,” Captain Liao Chien-tsung was heard saying on flight recorders eight seconds before the crash, the report by Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council said.

Liao was initially hailed a hero for steering the aircraft away from buildings.

His training records released by the council showed that he had failed a simulator check during his test for promotion to captain last year due to “insufficient knowledge” of engine flameout.

But the council did not apportion any blame in its report.

A Hong Kong-based pilot told the South China Morning Post that TransAsia had tested all pilots on the handling of engine failure since the crash and 30 per cent failed. Those who failed would receive more training and be retested. He said pilots were supposed to turn off a failed engine to secure it.

The passenger flight GE 235, an ATR72-600, clipped a bridge and crashed into the Keelung River with 58 people on board, including 31 from the mainland, just minutes after taking off from Taipei Songshan Airport.

Among the dead were the captain and the co-pilot. Thirteen passengers and one cabin crew member sustained serious injuries. The other person on board suffered only minor injuries. Two people on the ground – a taxi driver and his female passenger – suffered minor injuries. Read the rest of this entry »


Isabella Steger: Leaked Chats on Vote Strategy Leave Hong Kong Lawmakers Reeling

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Isabella Steger reports: Beijing is striving to present a united front with its supporters in Hong Kong’s legislature, even as the pro-establishment camp is rocked by a series of leaked online conversations related to last week’s failed vote on a 2017 election overhaul.

“According to the leaked conversations published by the Oriental Daily, participants in the online chat included Jasper Tsang, a veteran pro-Beijing politician who is also the president of the legislature. The conversation shows Mr. Tsang was involved in the discussion last Thursday morning to orchestrate the timing of the vote.”

On Thursday, Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily newspaper published a series of conversations among a group of pro-Beijing lawmakers on the popular mobile messaging service Whatsapp, showing the internal debate before the vote took place and the politicians’ reactions afterwards.

An image of the Oriental Daily’s report on the leaked chats on Thursday. Isabella Steger/The Wall Street Journal

An image of the Oriental Daily’s report on the leaked chats on Thursday.
Isabella Steger/The Wall Street Journal

“That compromised Mr. Tsang’s obligation to remain neutral as president of the Legislative Council, opposition lawmakers said, with some demanding that he step down.”

Pro-Beijing lawmakers last week attempted to stage a walkout of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to delay a vote on the election plan. Yet the tactic backfired: The vote was not postponed, and the package – which had been expected to narrowly fall short of passage – met a resounding defeat. In the wake of the vote, pro-Beijing lawmakers such as Regina Ip, a former security secretary, and Jeffrey Lam, who initiated the walkout, delivered emotional public apologies over the blunder.

“Everyone who could be a potential defector in the opposition has already spoken, it doesn’t look like there will be a change to the final result.”

— Mr. Tsang wrote in the chat, according to the leaked transcripts

The election plan, which for the first time would grant the public the right to vote for the city’s top leader, is opposed by pro-democracy lawmakers because it only allows pre-screened candidates to run. While pro-Beijing lawmakers hold a majority in Hong Kong’s legislature, the pro-democracy camp’s opposition to the measure denied it the two-thirds majority required for passage. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Officials Hounded by Activists as Dog-Eating Festival Nears

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Alyssa Abkowitz writes: The dog days of summer have arrived.

As locals prepare for the annual Yulin Dog Eating Festival in China’s Guangxi region, animal rights organizations are unleashing high-profile figures and waging global social media campaigns in an effort to bring the event to heel.

“An estimated 10,000 dogs are slaughtered for the annual festival, which marks the traditional start of summer and will occur on June 22 this year. Festival participants typically pair dog meat with lychees and a bevy of grain alcohol.”

As of June 18, Animals Asia, a Hong Kong based advocacy group, said that within the past two weeks, around 70,000 people had signed a letterasking China’s dog meat traders to stay away from the festival. It’s the first year Animals Asia has run a petition, the group said.

British comedian Ricky Gervais has partnered with Humane Society International to campaign against the festival. Mr. Gervais recently tweeted out, “Please help our best friend. #StopYuLin2015.” He included a photo of a canine with lipstick rings on its face, along with the caption: “The only marks you should leave on a dog.”

Humane Society International also launched a letter-writing campaign and has bestowed the name “Ricky” (in Mr. Gervais’ honor) to a black-and-white pooch rescued from a Yulin slaughterhouse last month. According to the Humane Society, 400,000 people have used the organization’s websiteto send messages directly to Guangxi’s Communist Party secretary, Peng Qinghua. Mr. Peng could not be reached for comment, and Humane Society officials did not immediately respond to a request for further details on how the messages were delivered and whether they had successfully reached his office.

[Read the full text here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

Raise UR Paw, a non-profit in Canada, said that as of June 15 its letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the petition website change.org had received more than 340,000 signatures. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Democrats Unite

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The territory blocks Beijing’s preferred election law

Hong Kong democrats celebrated Thursday as the city’s legislature blocked passage of the Beijing-backed election law that sparked last year’s 75-day mass protests. Not that this was a surprise. Beijing’s vision of democracy—a rigged election in which Hong Kongers could vote only for candidates chosen by a small pro-Beijing committee—was politically dead on arrival.

“All 27 pro-democracy legislators voted no and even picked up a vote from outside their caucus. The pro-Beijing camp staged a disorderly last-minute walk-out, leaving only eight votes in support of Beijing’s proposal. The veto would have held either way, but the scene was an appropriate end to the government’s attempt to subvert universal suffrage.”

Democrats in the legislature had the votes to block Beijing’s plan since it was announced last August. Then came the protests, during which democrats displayed greater numbers and determination than anyone expected. Public opinion, long critical of the government but divided on the reform vote, increasingly came to favor veto. Outside the legislature on Thursday, democrats outnumbered nominal pro-Beijing demonstrators, who wore matching shirts, refused to speak to the media and spoke Mandarin, not Hong Kong’s dominant Cantonese language.

“Unless Beijing puts forward a more acceptable plan, Hong Kong’s next leader will be selected in 2017 like the last, by a 1,200-member committee of the territory’s elite.”

All 27 pro-democracy legislators voted no and even picked up a vote from outside their caucus. The pro-Beijing camp staged a disorderly last-minute walk-out, leaving only eight votes in support of Beijing’s proposal. The veto would have held either way, but the scene was an appropriate end to the government’s attempt to subvert universal suffrage. Read the rest of this entry »


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