Hong Kong activists kicked off a long-threatened mass civil disobedience protest Sunday to challenge Beijing over restrictions on voting reforms, escalating the battle for democracy in the former British colony after police arrested dozens of student demonstrators.
HONG KONG – Hong Kong police are investigating after small firebombs were thrown at the home and business of a pro-democracy media magnate in an apparent intimidation attempt.
“The goal is intimidation…a continuation of the attacks against Mr. Lai and Next Media for its editorial position, which is at odds with the anti-democracy forces.”
— Next Media spokesman Mark Simon
Surveillance video showed a car backing up to the gates of Jimmy Lai‘s home early Monday and a masked attacker getting out and throwing what looks to be a Molotov cocktail before driving off.
At about the same time, another incendiary device was thrown from a car at the entrance to his Next Media company. Its publications include the flagship pro-democracy Apple Daily, one of the city’s most popular newspapers.
No one was injured and the small fires were quickly extinguished. The cars used in the attacks were later found burned out and stripped of their license plates, according to local media reports.
Lai is well known as a critic of Beijing and a staunch supporter of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, which occupied streets for 11 weeks last year to press their demands for free elections. He was among the thousands of protesters who were tear-gassed by police as the protest movement erupted in September. Read the rest of this entry »
A Hong Kong Media Mogul and His Protest Tent
“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.
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 »
Journalists covering the protests include some who have been expelled from China amid crackdowns
Oct. 5, 2014 5:03 p.m. ET, L. Gordon Crovitz writes: Information has been the main currency of Hong Kong since colonial days, when word reached mainland Chinese that if they escaped to “touch base” in Hong Kong, they would get refuge under British rule. Hong Kong became Asia’s first global city thanks to hardworking immigrants who made the most of their open trade, English legal system and free speech.
“By breaking the promise that Hong Kong can select its own government, China’s current rulers are violating clear obligations.”
Hong Kong protesters are driven by hope that a leader selected by Hong Kong voters—as Beijing promised for 2017 before it reneged—can protect their way of life. But as the Communist Party narrows freedoms on the mainland, Deng Xiaoping ’s “one country, two systems” formulation for the 1997 handover entails a widening gap between life in Hong Kong and the rest of China. Without a government to represent them, Hong Kong people had no better choice than to take to the streets.
“This year has seen unprecedented physical attacks on journalists in Hong Kong, presumably at Beijing’s behest. China extorted advertising boycotts of pro-democracy publishers in Hong Kong. It forced critical bloggers to close down.”
Mainland China is in an era of brutal suppression. Beijing jails reformers, controls journalists and employs hundreds of thousands of censors on social media. Twitter , Facebook , YouTube and many global news sites are blocked. Instagram was closed down after mainlanders shared photos of Hong Kong people using umbrellas against pepper spray and tear gas.
“Hong Kong’s fate is to be the world’s window on an unpredictable China. “
As a financial capital, Hong Kong cannot survive without open access to information. It has more newspapers than any other city in the world. It’s been a window on China since the communist revolution. An unintended consequence of Beijing’s recent crackdown is that expelled foreign journalists now operate from Hong Kong, delivering news of the protests.
Google searches from China are routed to Hong Kong servers so that results can be delivered uncensored
The Wall Street Journal’s first overseas edition was launched in Hong Kong in 1976. A running joke among Journal opinion writers is that it’s the only place in the world where our free-market, free-people beliefs are mainstream. Google searches from China are routed to Hong Kong servers so that results can be delivered uncensored. Read the rest of this entry »
Occupy Central has threatened to shut down the city’s financial district with a massive sit-in if Beijing doesn’t allow completely open elections for chief executive
BEIJING (AP) — China’s legislature on Sunday ruled against allowing open nominations in elections for Hong Kong’s chief executive, a decision that promises to ignite political tensions in the Asian financial hub.
Left: Jimmy Lai, Chairman and Founder of Next Media (Reuters)
The legislature’s powerful Standing Committee ruled that all candidates for chief executive must receive more than half
of votes from a special nominating body before going before voters. Hong Kong democracy activists have held massive protests demanding that Chinese leaders let the city’s voters choose their chief executive from an open list of candidates.
Activists have also decried the nominating committee held up by Beijing as beholden to Chinese leaders and were mobilizing to stage massive protests against the decision.
“Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner,” the Standing Committee said in their decision. Read the rest of this entry »
HONG KONG—Isabella Steger reports: Thousands of people turned out Sunday in Hong Kong to support media freedom after the condition of former newspaper editor Kevin Lau, who was the victim of a brutal knife attack, took a turn for the better.
Mr. Lau was the editor of respected local Chinese-language daily Ming Pao before being abruptly dismissed in January. He was slashed with a knife on Wednesday near a restaurant he was known to regularly frequent on the east side of Hong Kong’s main island.
He entered the hospital in critical condition and his condition was improved to “serious” on Friday. On Saturday, Mr. Lau’s wife, Vivien Lau, issued a statement saying Mr. Lau had been transferred to the hospital’s general ward from the intensive-care unit.
Attacked Hong Kong Journalist’s Condition Improves
“However, the reality is the wounds he suffers are deep and serious.…He will have to undergo a prolonged program of physiotherapy and other rehabilitation,” Ms. Lau said.
Mr. Lau was shown on television Saturday flashing an “OK” sign to reporters as he was being moved to the general ward.