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Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protesters Not Allowed to Board Flight to Beijing

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HONG KONG — Isabella Steger reports: Members of a student protest group who planned to take their demands for democracy in Hong Kong to the Chinese capital weren’t allowed to board a flight to Beijing on Saturday.

Four members of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, who have been at the forefront of pro-democracy protests that have gone on for more than 40 days in the city, were unable to board their Cathay Pacific flight.

Representatives of the group said the airline denied boarding to Alex Chow, who leads the student group, Nathan Law, Eason Chung and Jeffrey Tsang, because they received notification that the students’ entry permits had been voided.

About 100 pro-democracy protesters went to Hong Kong’s airport to send the students off, carrying yellow umbrellas and singing protest anthems. Read the rest of this entry »

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Clashes in Mong Kok: Protesters Arrested

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HONG KONG — Yvonne Lee reports: Hong Kong police have arrested three men following clashes early Thursday in Mong Kok, a pro-democracy protest zone in the Kowloon part of the city.

“The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong are in their sixth week, but there is little sign of resolution. Sunday, protesters are planning to march west from the business district on Hong Kong Island to the Chinese government’s Liaison Office.”

Local television stations showed police using pepper spray on dozens of protesters in the working-class neighborhood. The confrontation was allegedly caused by a man using a camera flash to provoke a police officer, the news channels said.

“Members of the Hong Kong Federation of Students have threatened to bring their protest to Beijing during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, as a way to gain publicity for their demand that China allow free elections in Hong Kong.”

A Hong Kong police spokesperson confirmed that three men—aged between 24 and 50—were arrested. One was arrested for suspicion of criminal damage, while the other two were arrested for obstructing police officers executing their duty. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Van Veluwen: Hong Kong protesters from Balcony

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Cool photoblog to explore: This item from 10/4/14

Large swarm of protesters following police in Prince Edward, this was taken from my balcony. They escorted what was apparently an anti-protester out of the area before heading off down a back alley away from the group of protesters. Things are starting to get really heavy tonight and warnings are coming from those who say that Bejing will make a move tonight. It’s eerie hearing the shouts from the protest this close to home(more)

Van Veluwen


Hong Kong Uprising: An Outsider’s View from the Inside

The Butcher:

A spectacular collection of photographs documenting the Hong Kong protests from our Asia Editor-at-Large, Deb Fong…

_DSC7408 _DSC7624 A testament to the protesters' organizational capabilities - exemplified by 'office' set-ups in the heart of the Admiralty protest zone A behind-the-scenes look at the student-led protest speeches - supported by a dedicated A/V team directly behind their platform _DSC7476 _DSC7619
_DSC7622 The press were out in full force covering the aftermath of the stagnant talks

Originally posted on HONG KONG FONG:

Unless you’ve been stranded on an island without WiFi or television, or hiding under a rock, you just may have heard a bit on the news about what’s been happening in my adoptive hometown of Hong Kong. OK, in fact, the updates had been pervasive across news channels. More so than I would have anticipated. Now that mass media on the topic has died down, but the protests linger on, it’s worth taking a step back and reflecting.

One of the main protest zones in Hong Kong (Admiralty) - during the highly publicized October 21 talks between student protest leaders and government officials

One of the main protest zones in Hong Kong (Admiralty) – during the highly publicized October 21 talks between student protest leaders and government officials

The idea of democracy is an oft-lauded ‘ideal’. It’s seductive, particularly to the western world. So perhaps it’s really no surprise at all that the largely student-run, pro-democracy movement in HK resonates with such a broad audience. Don’t think that point is lost on the students. Young…

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Hong Kong: Democracy Vote Suspended

For WSJ, Isabella Steger reports: Four weeks after volleys of tear gas by police led thousands of protesters to seize control of streets across Hong Kong, the leaders of the pro-democracy movement are struggling to control its disparate groups as fatigue and frustration set in.

[Follow Pundit Planet’s EXCLUSIVE coverage of the Hong Kong protests]

On Sunday, a split among the protest groups led to the abrupt cancellation of a two-day vote on the latest offer by city officials, just hours before it was set to begin. Some protesters criticized the vote saying the groups organizing it didn’t represent them.

‘“In this movement, I’m motivated by myself, not the leadership.”’

—Bonnie Kong, 30

“I admit the [leaders] have made a mistake,” said Alex Chow, secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students. “We look forward to having more discussions with protesters in the three protest sites.”

A pro-democracy protester sits on a barricade at a protest site in the Mongkok district of Hong Kong on October 26, 2014. Four weeks after tens of thousands of Hong Kongers took to the streets demanding free leadership elections for the semi-autonomous Chinese city, weary demonstrators remain encamped across several major roads.   AFP PHOTO / Philippe LopezPHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

A pro-democracy protester sits on a barricade at a protest site in the Mongkok district of Hong Kong on October 26, 2014.   Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

He linked hands with other key figures from the three groups leading the protests and bowed in apology. Joshua Wong, the 18-year-old leader of one of the two student groups, asked for protesters’ forgiveness, and all admitted that the decision to hold the vote was hasty and lacked preparation.

“Without [a united front] the protest groups can’t consolidate power and there is no structure for discussions, let alone making decisions.”

– Leung Kwok-hung, chairman of the League of Social Democrats

Bonnie Kong, 30, who works in media sales, said she accepted the leaders’ apology but said they didn’t represent her. “We don’t follow the leadership,” she said. “In this movement, I’m motivated by myself, not the leadership.”

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The city’s government, which has refused to meet their demands, is hoping that public opinion turns against the students. Groups of opponents to the protesters, wearing blue ribbons in support of the police, carried out a petition drive and held rallies over the weekend.

“The most resilient aspect of this movement is the unity of the protesters. There is no ‘organizer’ in this movement. Each time the crowds swelled, was it because ‘organizers’ asked people to come out or was it because of something the government did?”

– Keita Lee, 28, a cook, who expects the occupation of Admiralty to last at least until the Lunar New Year in February

On Sunday evening, Carrie Lam, the government official who led the one meeting with students, called for more talks. “Our community expects the government and the student representatives to hold more dialogues in order to as soon as possible get out of the current impasse,” Ms. Lam said in a TV interview.

Pro-democracy leaders (L-R) Benny Tai, Joshua Wong and Alan Leong arrive. Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

Pro-democracy leaders (L-R) Benny Tai, Joshua Wong and Alan Leong arrive. Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

Besides tear gas and pepper spray, the protesters have endured attacks from opponents and efforts by police and others to clear the roads they occupy in three densely populated districts of Hong Kong, including the main protest site surrounding the city government headquarters. Those actions have galvanized the protesters, drawing out large crowds whenever the movement was under attack.

But time is starting to take its toll. Read the rest of this entry »


[EXCLUSIVE] Hong Kong Democracy Protests — Democracy, Strategy and Tactics

The Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters had planned to have some kind of vote yesterday on how they would go forward.  But they didn’t.  From the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s leading English-language newspaper:

Occupy Central protesters and observers yesterday backed an 11th-hour decision to scrap a poll on the way forward for the month-old sit-in, saying the move made it easier to enter into more talks with the government.

Protest leaders announced the U-turn hours before the electronic ballot was to start at 7pm and apologised for not having sufficiently discussed with demonstrators the poll’s methodology and objectives. But shelving it did not mean they had shifted their stance or intended to end the occupation, Federation of Students secretary general Alex Chow Yong-kang said.

Some protesters had said the poll was redundant. A huge banner that called for delaying the poll was hung from an Admiralty footbridge yesterday morning.

Occupy co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting said: “The public may feel there are problems with the movement’s organisation and leadership, and we admit that … I promise that in the future, we will give sufficient notice to and discuss with protesters before making a major formal decision.”

For me, the lesson in this story is that “democracy” is not a self-executing political panacea. Democracy has a value — a high value — as ONE element of a fair and well-ordered society. But democracy can only serve its proper function as a check on the tyranny of the state when it operates within a system of well-defined and transparent laws and institutions. It is not surprising to me that the vote called by the protesters did not happen. There was no framework of law and institutional operation within which it could happen.

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Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters still occupy the ground in front of the main government offices — but what do they do now?

The smartest lawyers and statesmen in the rebel colonies worked for many months to draft the Constitution of the United States before it was finally implemented. Doing this created the framework of laws and institutions in which democracy operated as only one dynamic part of a system that was crafted after extremely careful deliberation by some of the wisest men who have ever considered these issues. The Framers of the US Constitution did their work after putting in place a temporary structure — the Articles of Confederation — to ensure a stable environment for long enough to work out the permanent “political operating system” for their country. They did not do their work in the heated stress and passion of an armed rebellion against the Crown. They first made an imperfect compromise in the Articles of Confederation to buy themselves the time they knew it would take to work out a truly well-ordered system. My advice to the protesters: study history.

“For me, the lesson in this story is that “democracy” is not a self-executing political panacea. Democracy has a value — a high value — as ONE element of a fair and well-ordered society.”

The problem, of course, is that there is no time for study.  The pro-democracy protesters have been improvising and responding to the largely pro-Beijing government’s actions from the beginning.  They are working from a base that is fueled by legitimate passion for liberty and fear of tyranny, but without a well-established leadership operating within a widely-recognized and accepted organizational structure.

“But democracy can only serve its proper function as a check on the tyranny of the state when it operates within a system of well-defined and transparent laws and institutions.”

In any conflict, all things being equal, the side with the more easily achieved strategic goal and the larger number of tactical options will prevail. For better or worse, in this situation, the side with both of these advantages is the pro-establishment side. For the pro-Beijing Hong Kong government, the strategic “victory condition” is maintaining the status quo, and they have a broad range of tactical options along the spectrum of patiently waiting out the protesters on one end to forcefully removing them on the other. I fear the pro-democracy side may not really realize this or, if they do, can think of no tactical response other than “keep doing what we’re doing.” Without regard to the merits of either side’s goals, this makes the pro-democracy side’s strategic and tactical position very weak. Unless they realize this and adjust their strategy and tactics accordingly, the outcome for them does not look good.

“In any conflict, all things being equal, the side with the more easily achieved strategic goal and the larger number of tactical options will prevail. For better or worse, in this situation, the side with both of these advantages is the pro-establishment side.”

This grim picture is playing itself out in a situation where the largest number of the anti-establishment protesters are high school and college students, without strong and experienced leadership that has been tested over time, and without any organizational infrastructure to support the building of strategic or tactical consensus.  Unless this situation changes, it looks increasingly unlikely that the pro-democracy movement will put itself into a situation where it can achieve a real “victory.”  If their only tool is a “passion for democracy,” they cannot prevail.

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Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement is fenced in by its own passions.


Hong Kong Readies for Protester Vote

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City Calm Ahead of a Vote Organized by Pro-Democracy Protest Leaders

Chester Yung, Fiona Law and Prudence Ho reporting: Hong Kong was calm Sunday ahead of a two-day vote organized by protest leaders—an attempt to seek popular legitimacy for a pro-democracy movement that for almost a month has clogged the city’s main arteries.
[Follow Pundit Planet’s EXCLUSIVE coverage of the Hong Kong protests]

Crowds grew Saturday at the downtown protest site, as they have during other weekends, though there were no reports of clashes between demonstrators and police as on other recent evenings.

The student-led protesters want anyone to be able to stand for Hong Kong’s first ever public ballot for chief executive in 2017. China’s government in August ruled a selection committee largely loyal to Beijing will select those who can stand, sparking the protests.

People listened to talks between student leaders and senior government officials as they were broadcast live at a protest site in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Oct. 21, 2014. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

People listened to talks between student leaders and senior government officials as they were broadcast live at a protest site in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Some local citizens—who have taken to wearing blue ribbons—are angry that students have shut down parts of the city over the issue. On Saturday night there were reports that some blue ribbon demonstrators had attacked journalists covering their counter protests in Kowloon.

“I agree with the students’ goal. Who doesn’t want a democratic society?” 

– Tung Chee-hwa

Radio Television Hong Kong and Television Broadcasts Ltd. issued statements complaining their journalists had been pushed and kicked by blue ribbon protesters. Police haven’t made any arrests.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying reiterated Saturday he won’t resign, saying the protesters’ demands aren’t in accordance with the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] J.P. Morgan Banker Video-Bombs Live Interview With Hong Kong Protesters

“Hong Kong has many people who are against Occupy Central. The fact that a majority of people are against Occupy…but that you guys continue to occupy the sites, that’s most undemocratic of all.”

– David Lau, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. banker, corporate finance division

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For WSJ, Prudence Ho reports: A senior J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. banker walking to lunch on Wednesday interrupted a live roundtable webcast on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests to express his frustration over the continued street blockage.

“Do you think you’re being democratic? There’s a show going on and then you just come in to interrupt us.” 

– Martin Lee, founding chairman of Democratic Party, who was one of the guests

J.P. Morgan said Thursday that Mr. Lau’s comments were his own personal opinions and don’t represent the bank’s views.

J.P. Morgan said that Mr. Lau’s comments were his own personal opinions and don’t represent the bank’s views.

David Lau, who heads the U.S. investment bank’s China corporate finance division, walked into the interview with protest leaders and a democracy advocate that was being streamed by local paper Apple Daily, live from the Admiralty protest site.

“People are trying to get to work, and you’ve blocked off the streets. That’s not democratic either, is it?”

– David Lau, who didn’t realize his comments were being streamed live

“Hong Kong has many people who are against Occupy Central,” said Mr. Lau, who was wearing a blue shirt. “The fact that a majority of people are against Occupy…but that you guys continue to occupy the sites, that’s most undemocratic of all.”

[Follow Pundit Planet’s EXCLUSIVE coverage of the Hong Kong protests]

He ignored attempts by the program’s host to stop him, and continued speaking for nearly two minutes, though he never lost his cool during the interruption. Read the rest of this entry »


Kenny G Loves China, Deletes Photo Taken at Hong Kong Protests


Hong Kong Media Mogul Jimmy Lai Has Spent More than 3 Weeks with Protesters

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A Hong Kong Media Mogul and His Protest Tent

Fiona Law reports: Jimmy Lai has spent time at a protest encampment next to the government complex in Hong Kong’s Admiralty district for 25 days now.

“The momentum of this movement is tremendous. People just won’t go away if there’s no solution from the government.”

“I just feel that it’s my responsibility to be part of it,” said the media mogul on Wednesday in his blue tent, where he has gone every day since the start of pro-democracy protests that are now in their fourth week.

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Mr. Lai, the founder of Next Media Ltd., which owns publications in Hong Kong and Taiwan including the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, said he believed the protesters will stay on in the streets.

“I was born in China and spent my childhood in China seeing how life was like under the authoritarian Chinese regime…This was like heaven, the other side like hell.”

– Jimmy Lai

“The momentum of this movement is tremendous,” he said. “People just won’t go away if there’s no solution from the government.”

Mr. Lai said he is prepared to stay at the tent, which he shares with some pro-democracy politicians and volunteers, for a long time. Unlike some students who sleep at the protest sites, Mr. Lai only spends time in the tent during the day and goes back home for work and sleep. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong has too many poor people to allow direct elections, leader says

Originally posted on Quartz:

HONG KONG—Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement protesters have been demanding that the city’s top official, CY Leung, step down for weeks now. They may soon be joined by many more of the city’s 7 million residents, after a controversial interview last night in which Leung suggested that election reforms sought by the protestors would invite undue influence from the city’s poor.

Speaking at his official residence, a colonial-era mansion set above the city—it’s furnished with crystal chandeliers and guarded by massive stone lions—Leung addressed three foreign newspapers that target Hong Kong’s wealthy international community. Allowing the entire voting population of Hong Kong, some 5 million people, to directly nominate candidates for the city’s top official position would be a mistake, Leung said:

“If it’s entirely a numbers game—numeric representation—then obviously you’d be talking to half the people in Hong Kong [that] earn less than US$1,800 a month. You would end…

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HK: Dueling Definitions of Democracy

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Rhetoric aside, China has always retained the final say on how the city’s leaders would be chosen. That power was enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, by giving Beijing the right to final interpretations, including on elections.

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Martin Lee, a leading democratic activist and former legislator who sat on the law’s drafting committee.

“There was no doubt in our minds that Beijing was quite prepared to give us democracy or universal suffrage as everybody would understand it to be.”

– Martin Lee

When China and the U.K. began negotiating the transfer of Hong Kong in the early 1980s, both sides spoke optimistically about elections. Promises for future balloting were embedded in documents signed at the time to guide Hong Kong after its return to Chinese control in 1997.

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For WSJ Ned Levin, Charles Hutzler and Jenny Gross: In recent months, arguments over the meaning of those promises have helped to propel increasingly confrontational protests over how the city will choose its next leader in 2017. Beijing says that it has honored its commitment to provide universal suffrage; pro-democracy activists say that China has trampled those promises by insisting that candidates be approved by a committee whose members are largely pro-business and pro-Beijing.

“No one told Hong Kongers when they were assured of universal suffrage that it would not mean being able to choose for whom they could vote.”

Rhetoric aside, China has always retained the final say on how the city’s leaders would be chosen. That power was enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, by giving Beijing the right to final interpretations, including on elections.

“They can interpret white as black, yellow, green or red. And tomorrow, they can interpret back to white,” said Martin Lee, a leading democratic activist and former legislator who sat on the law’s drafting committee. He resigned after China’s bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.

The agreement to return Hong Kong to China was signed by U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang in 1984. During a tense 1982 trip to China, Mrs. Thatcher tripped and stumbled on the steps of the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Clashes in Hong Kong: Cops Mix it Up with Protesters in Tunnel, Streets

Pro-democracy activists clashed with police and barricaded a tunnel near Hong Pro-democracy activists clashed with police and barricaded a tunnel near Hong Kong’s government headquarters overnight on Tuesday, expanding their protest zone again after being cleared out of some other streets in the latest escalation of tensions in a weeks-long political crisis.

[Follow Pundit Planet’s EXCLUSIVE coverage of the Hong Kong Protests]

The demonstrators blocked the underpass with tyres, metal and plastic safety barriers and concrete slabs taken from drainage ditches. Read the rest of this entry »


Would You Like Pepper With That? Hong Kong Protesters Return to Mong Kok District

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HONG KONG—Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators swarmed back to a protest site Friday night that police had cleared earlier in the day, clashing with officers yet again on the streets of a city struggling to find a way out of a deepening political crisis.

“Apparently their action has triggered more people to occupy Mong Kok again. It’s totally congested with protesters who are forced by police to block the sidewalks and we couldn’t move at all.”

— Lisa Wan

Crowds swelled in the city’s Mong Kok district, one of Hong Kong’s three main protest sites, chanting “open the way” as police in riot gear linked hands to block people from crossing into the area’s main streets. People who were being held back by officers spilled onto side streets and onto already-packed sidewalks, as crowds shouted and jeered.

[Follow Pundit Planet’s EXCLUSIVE coverage of the Hong Kong Protests]

Police used pepper spray on several protesters and detained a number of people, including acclaimed international photojournalist Paula Bronstein. A representative for Getty Images said Ms. Bronstein was on assignment for Getty to shoot the protests in Hong Kong and was awaiting more information.

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Hours earlier, before dawn Friday, protesters voluntarily left the Mong Kok encampment after hundreds of officers descended on the site and ordered the crowds to pack up and leave. Police were able to reopen traffic on one of the major thoroughfares in the area for the first time in days. But later in the morning, protesters started to rebuild their camp, again closing one lane of traffic. Tents re-emerged and trolleys of water and food were carted in as police lined the block and watched.

By Friday evening, thousands of protesters were again trying to fully close the entire street as police struggled to keep them at bay. Traffic was snarled throughout the area, and police tried to move demonstrators out of the way of city buses that had been caught up in the standoff. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Protesters Stage Another ‘Umbrella Marathon’ Run

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Gregor Stuart Hunter reports: For protesters sleeping on the streets of Hong Kong, the past three weeks have at times felt like a marathon. Now, they have a real one. Sort of.

“At a dire time like this, when we’ve been camped out for 19 days, this really helps boost morale.”

On Thursday night, runners returned for the second “Umbrella Marathon” following Sunday’s inaugural event, and named after the symbol of the city’s pro-democracy protests. The route is on downtown roads that are temporarily pedestrianized as a result of the sit-in, and just 2.5 miles compared to a regular marathon’s 26.2-mile slog.

Participants ran waving illuminated mobile phones in the nighttime air and cheered “Hong Kong, Hong Kong” as the students watching from the surrounding tent city broke into applause.

“Running is synonymous with freedom.”

“At a dire time like this, when we’ve been camped out for 19 days, this really helps boost morale,” said Nikki Lau, one of a handful of volunteers who organized the event in a single day after being inspired by a blog post.

The event drew a wide mix of Hong Kong society, including professionals and expatriates who said they had been looking for a role to play in supporting Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong: Love in the Time of Protests


Hong Kong Protests: The Power of Ridicule

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For Hong Kong Protesters, Ridicule Proves an Effective Formula

On the streets of Hong Kong, protesting students have found a novel way to assail their opponents. They sing “Happy Birthday.” As the WSJ’s Andrew Browne writes in this week’s China’s World column:

Lusty choruses of the song—in English—rang out in the working-class neighborhood of Mong Kok last week when thugs descended to try to break up the sit-in demonstrations there. The crowds would engulf a hostile interloper and strike up the melody.

It was musical mockery; the equivalent of the medieval pillory designed to publicly embarrass and humiliate. Read the rest of this entry »


Paris Soutient La Révolution De Parapluie

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TRIAD UNLEASHED: Masked Gangsters Lead Assault Against Pro-Democracy Protesters

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HONG KONG –  A mob of masked men opposed to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators led an apparently coordinated assault on the protest zone in the heart of the city’s financial district Monday, tearing down barricades and clashing with police.

[Follow Pundit Planet’s EXCLUSIVE coverage of the Hong Kong Protests]

The chaotic scenes came after police carried out a dawn operation to reopen some key roads blocked by protesters for more than 15 days. Police said they will continue to chip away at the occupied zone to relieve traffic, and warned that anyone who challenges them could be arrested.

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“Before the police came, young men wearing masks and dark clothing came to pick fights with people and we heard that some of them had weapons.”

Monday’s confrontations highlighted the growing tension between student-led protesters and authorities — as well as other residents aggravated by the disruptions. The protesters, who had enjoyed widespread support when the movement began, are fighting to keep up momentum as the political crisis entered a third week.

“I don’t know who the young men wearing masks were. We suspect they’re triad members, but it’s hard to say. What other kind of group would organize themselves to come attack us?”

– Kevin Ng, college student

Demonstrators have flooded several thoroughfares in central Hong Kong since Sept. 28 in a civil disobedience movement to oppose restrictions on the first-ever direct election for the semiautonomous Chinese city’s leader, promised by Beijing for 2017.

Leung Chun-ying

Leung Chun-ying

They want authorities to drop a plan to use a pro-Beijing committee to screen candidates, and demand the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, the city’s Beijing-backed leader.

Authorities have repeatedly urged protesters to retreat from the streets, but student leaders have vowed to keep up the disruptions until the government responds to their demands. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong: Riot Gear Infographic: How Occupy Protesters and Police Stack Up

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 South China Morning Post


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