A 400 square mile island in the South China Sea is trying to defy China’s government. Hong Kong is approaching the 8th week of pro-democracy protests, but many are wondering how much longer the demonstrators will hold out.
Originally 100,000 strong, the number of protesters has dwindled down to a few hundred. On November 18th, police cleared barricades near government headquarters with the protesters’ help. Many people see this as the beginning of the end for Occupy Central With Love and Peace, others as a sign the movement will remain a peaceful resistance. The joint effort occurred following an appeal from former Hong Kong chief justice Andrew Li not to damage the ‘rule of law‘.
The largest protest to hit the city since the transfer of power from Britain to China in 1997, there are those who aren’t giving up so easily. In response to the police action on November 18th, a small group of protesters tried to force their way into the city’s legislative building. Four of which were arrested.
The leaders of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, the catalysts for Hong Kong’s protests, denounced this aggressive action saying the movement has been and will remain peaceful.
Even so, negative feelings toward the pro-democracy movement have grown as business continues to be disrupted. Polls now say 70% of people want the Occupy Central demonstrators to go home.
Still some are unclear as to why the protests started in the first place. The Occupy Central With Love website released an English statement citing two reasons behind their protests:
OCLP has two demands:
(1) The immediate withdrawal of the NPCSC’s decision on the framework for Hong Kong’s political reform
(2) The swift resumption of the political reform consultation. The Leung Chun-ying administration has failed in the political reform process. We demand Leung re-submits a new political reform report to the central government which fully reflects the Hong Kong people’s aspirations for democracy. If Leung refuses to respond, the action will escalate.
But what does this even mean?
The NPCSC, or China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee was supposed to allow free elections for the territory’s leader, according to Basic Law.
But, in August the NPCSC ruled out any more voting reforms, making it so only the candidates Beijing approves can run.
The protest’s goal is to force Leung chun-ying, Hong Kong’s Communist- Chinese appointed leader, to force China into following up on their previous promises for universal suffrage.
Some pro-democracy advocates call for the move to more aggressive protests to spur action, while others still call for the end to the demonstrations in general. Whether or not the movement is fading remains to be seen.