October 31, 2014

Having CY as Patron…

Posted on 31 October, 2014 by simon


An Apple Daily reporter enquired about bc’s non-coverage of the Hong Kong String Orchestra concert because CY Leung was their patron – here’s his questions and my not so eloquent answers.

1. Did HKSO respond to bc’s open letter? If they did, what did they say in their response?
No, the Hong Kong String Orchestra (HKSO) has not responded. But just to be clear, I think the HKSO is a wonderful orchestra – our choosing not to report abut them is solely related to the HKSO’s Honorary Patrons comments.

One person emailed us 2 days ago to voice her criticism of our stance. I asked her to post her objections about bc’s position to our website or on facebook. She’s has yet to do so.

2. It was stated in the letter that bc cannot write about HKSO while CY Leung remains as patron of HKSO. CY Leung however is patron for almost 100 different groups and organizations. Will bc extend the boycott to other organizations in which CY is patron or chairperson?
Just as bc magazine has not written about restaurants who sell sharks fin for the last 15 years, bc magazine will not be covering, promoting, writing about or accepting advertising from companies or organizations that CY Leung is a patron of.

Some people may think this unfairly punishes the organisations – but they chose to have CY as their patron for the money and prestige it would bring them. And many have done very well financially from their association with him.

They won’t complain – but should – when he opens his mouth and insults and demeans hard working Hongkongers – who are probably their own customers and employees.

3. Does bc worry that this public statement that criticize the CE would undermine bc’s advertising revenue or bring about political pressure?
Not everyone can get paid $50million for doing nothing. The Chief Executive’s comments were insulting and demeaning to all those Hongkongers who work hard long hours – yet earn less than $14,000/month. The ‘poor’ and working class that CY wants to disenfranchise are the heart of Hong Kong – their work powers the city, their spending goes mostly into local business, they are Hong Kong.

There are also a few questions for you personally:

4. How long have you been in Hong Kong and what brought you here?
22 years

5. bc has followed the Umbrella Movement quite closely. What are your views on the movement?
bc magazine covers the Umbrella Movement by reporting what we see happening – interviewing those involved and reporting what say.

From a personal point of view, I think those who ‘govern’ us have not done the best job in recent years. There’s many reasons for that, mostly self-interest and incompetence, and it runs across all levels and political parties. But greed, stupidity and looking after no1 are hardly unique to HK politicians.

I don’t know if the Umbrella Movement will achieve all its aims – but it’s achievements so far will have a profound impact on Hong Kong. The calls for universal suffrage are placing the dissatisfaction of so many front and centre and demanding that Legco and the CE look out for the interests of all Hongkongers not just the rich. This after all is why they were elected and took an obligation to do and all of them have failed. The failure is theirs, and holding them to account for their failures and personal greed is our responsibility.

6. CY Leung has misspoken in more than one occasion recently, and his integrity has been questioned ever since he was selected. Do you think he is fit for the position of CE?
By his words and actions, my confidence in CY as CE is non-existent. But who would be an improvement? We are stuck with him, until Beijing decides otherwise – until that day arrives we can only hope he learns and improves.

7. You founded bc in 1994 and have witnessed the change of Hong Kong since then. Do you think Hong Kong has become a better or a worse place in the past 20 years?
Hong Kong has changed a lot, but it’s still the world’s greatest city and there’s still no better place to live. No other city / country could have hundreds of thousands of people holding a peaceful protest, with not a window broken. A protest where people look out for others ahead of themselves, pick up the rubbish and recycle unasked. Where seeing someone in need they offer to help not ignore… Beneath the concrete, it’s her people who make HK unique and a wonderful place to call home.

No idea if or when it will be published.

If you think CY Leung’s comments disenfranchising large numbers of Hongkongers purely on their salary is (looking for a polite word here) insulting. Then vote with your wallet, and avoid those businesses / organisations where CY is a patron.

Q. and A.: Larry Diamond on Political Change in Hong Kong


OCTOBER 30, 2014

Street protests for free elections in Hong Kong have now stretched into a second month, and there is no sign of resolution. The movement, known as Occupy Central With Love and Peace, is demanding changes to the restrictive framework Beijing has imposed for the election of Hong Kong’s next leader, the chief executive, in 2017. The protesters fear that the election guidelines issued by China’s legislature will ensure that only candidates approved by Beijing will appear on the ballot. But no concessions have been forthcoming from the government, and some wonder how long the civil disobedience campaign can be sustained and what it might achieve.

Larry Diamond, a political sociologist specializing in democracy studies, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and directs the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute. There he served as thesis adviser to Regina Ip, a pro-Beijing Hong Kong lawmaker and the city’s former security chief, a post she resigned in 2003 after the government’s push to pass antisubversion legislation led to major protests. (More recently, Ms. Ip has been one of the few pro-establishment figures to seek meetings with Occupy Central leaders to find a way to end the demonstrations.)

In an interview, Mr. Diamond discussed the prospects for political liberalization in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. Excerpts follow:


Do the protesters have any bargaining chips in dealing with the government right now?


It is good that the Hong Kong government and the protesters have talked to one another, and of course it is deeply disturbing that force has again been used against some of the demonstrators, but this has not yet happened on anything like the scale that is possible if the Beijing authorities should decide to impose a complete crackdown.

Negotiations should always be pursued when there is a dangerous stalemate, and that is what prevails in Hong Kong now. I have been saying for several years now that there are a variety of interesting options for moving toward the fully democratic, open election of the chief executive, and Hong Kongers have floated these. Indeed, Regina Ip did so in her master’s thesis some years ago.

Just as one example, Hong Kong could enlarge the nominating committee [currently stacked with delegates loyal to Beijing] considerably, make it much more inclusive, and lower the threshold for nomination from a majority to 10 or 15 percent. If the government were to offer a serious compromise formula, one could imagine the protesters backing down from their demand for civic nomination in 2017 and negotiating a more modest reform that would still be likely to produce a genuinely competitive election for chief executive. But the government is offering nothing in the way of real democratic reform.

I think that the protesters, the students and their sympathizers, are in a relatively weak bargaining position, particularly with the central government, somewhat stronger with respect to the local government. So what’s their bargaining chip? The bargaining chip is the ability to continue to disrupt the economic activity and normal functioning of governmental and economic life in Hong Kong. And this is potentially painful and threatening to the local government in Hong Kong, and to a greater extent, the business and banking community in Hong Kong.

Such an analysis might suggest that it is possible that the students are talking to the wrong people. They need to be talking to a wide range of established business and professional interests in Hong Kong. I don’t see how the students are going to move [Hong Kong Chief Executive] C.Y. Leung and his government. But they might get other established Hong Kong interests to realize that democratic reform is necessary and does not need to threaten their vital interests.

On the other hand, if you consider Beijing’s highest priority in Hong Kong, it is to ensure that Hong Kong does not establish a model or precedent that would become subversive of the authority of the Communist Party in the rest of China by inspiring demands for democratic change. There the students don’t have any bargaining chip with the central government, because the central government would rather allow ongoing protest, economic decay or even semi-military repression in Hong Kong than allow meaningful democratization in Hong Kong. That is my reading of the way that the central government is now thinking about Hong Kong.

It’s that almost any outcome would be better than democratization in Hong Kong because of their perception, I think somewhat erroneous, that it would have subversive diffusion effects in the rest of China. So if that’s the attitude of central government authorities in Beijing, how do you negotiate with that?


How do you view the protests in the long term?


I think that the fundamental issue is beyond any resolution in the foreseeable future. What should the students and other pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong do? I fear that if they just keep blocking the streets indefinitely, people will grow more and more tired of the disruption, and even many of those in Hong Kong who truly want democratic reform will grow weary and even irritated. There are some signs that this has begun to happen, and the government may thus think that time is on its side. Pro-democracy forces may thus opt to explore other forms of nonviolent civil resistance that can be sustained for the longer run, rather than keep occupying the streets.

The bottom line of much literature on nonviolent resistance is that tactical and strategic understanding and organizational skills and adaptability are extremely important, maybe more important than outside structural conditions, in determining whether a movement will succeed.


So far, the mainland Chinese public, especially the younger generation, has generally not been sympathetic to the Hong Kong protesters. Is people’s desire for democracy in China shrinking?


I don’t think there is any evidence that the desire for democracy in China is shrinking. The limited public opinion survey evidence we have — from the Asian Barometer — suggests that it’s growing, but gradually. In particular, it appears that the desire is for more open and accountable government, and for more freedom and autonomy — and for more elements of popular sovereignty, maybe not democracy per se. These attitudes and values are growing, but gradually, in China, and they’ll probably continue to grow, only gradually, maybe even very slowly, until there’s some crisis.

I think that it’s too soon to judge what the impact of the protests in Hong Kong is going to be on political thinking and political life in China in the longer run. What we see is visible demonstrations and articulations by people who are saying, in a very outspoken way, “This is destabilizing. This is not what we want for China.” They express in various ways a lack of sympathy for the protesters. People who are saying anything at all may be saying something negative.

But what about other people who are watching this and not saying anything publicly, or not posting anything on their web page but maybe are being deeply affected by this? I think there are a lot of people who are getting some sense of what is happening from social media and public media, and I think the news is still getting out. So there may be more people affected by this in China than may be conventionally understood.


Are you concerned that without changes to the election rules granting greater democracy, popular resentment in Hong Kong against mainland China will increase?


It’s possible and I don’t think it will be a healthy development. I think it’s important that the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong — and that includes students who are demanding democracy — remain disciplined and careful in their use of language. Discipline means avoiding violence but also means avoiding any implications of chaos. The students have been very shrewd, and I think laudable, in their restraint by very simple things. They have been very meticulous about picking up the trash from their demonstrations, and even then taking the trash and separating out the recyclables. First of all it’s idealistic. It shows their respect for their urban environment. But also it shows some discipline and order that they make sure that they are respectful to the community.

So I think it’s very important for the Hong Kong protesters to continue to show discipline and order. The same thing is important rhetorically — that they not become abusive in their language, that they not become abusive toward people who are maybe getting impatient with them, but just keep quietly and persistently restating why they’re doing this and what their principles are and so on. They should show respect to people who disagree with them and a desire not to inconvenience people. They should be very careful to avoid language that would suggest a lack of respect for the People’s Republic of China or a failure to identify with or accept their citizenship in the People’s Republic of China.

This is the image that is being portrayed of them [in Chinese state media] — that the protesters are a bunch of irresponsible scumbags who only care about themselves and don’t respect China. It is very important that the protesters not give the government an excuse to dismiss them or arrest them.

Larry Diamond.


Pro-democracy protesters camped outside Hong Kong government headquarters.


October 30, 2014

Hong Kong is still a very easy place to do business, even after a month of protests

Hong Kong is still a very easy place to do business, even after a month of protests

Lily Kuo 

Life in the city goes on.(Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

HONG KONG—Hong Kong’s Occupy Central, which vowed to bring the city’s financial center to a standstill if demands for democracy aren’t met, hasn’t quite done its job. The World Bank says that despite the pro-democracy protests, Hong Kong is still the world’s third-best locale to do business.

The ranking puts Hong Kong just behind Singapore and New Zealand, and contradicts the dire warnings by Chinese and Hong Kong officials that the protests are putting the economy at risk.

“Right now, the pro-democracy campaign does not appear to have an impact on the overall business confidence,” the World Bank’s Wendy Werner told the South China Morning Post. Only if the protests began to affect transparency or rules on registering property and trade would the business environment be affected, she said.

The impact of the so-called Umbrella Movement, whose thousands of demonstrators have blocked off three major roads in commercial and shopping districts for the past month, has so far been minimal. Tourism to the city actually increased. Only one of 15 economists surveyed by Bloomberg has lowered their Hong Kong GDP forecast for the year. And Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was world’s second-best performing index in October.

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A protester naps underneath messages of support for Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement.(Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

Still, many economists say the potential fallout depends on how long the protests continue, and some retailers say they are already feeling the pinch. Vincent Chow manages Chow Sang Sang, a Hong Kong jeweler with stores in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, where two of the biggest protest sites are situated. He says the chain has lost 350 hours of business, and sales dropped possibly as much as 10% last month compared to the year before. A hotel in Mong Kok was only athalf occupancy for most of October.

And the fact that the protests haven’t had a more dramatic effect onthe city’s economy may ultimately be bad news for the protesters, who have been using their occupation as leverage to demand a reversal of Beijing’s August decision that only candidates essentially vetted by Beijing can run in the city’s first direct elections in 2017.

Watching the protesters gather on Tuesday night in Admiralty, the main protest site, to mark one month since the protests began, supporter Nicole Kong, 29, said, “My concern is that people are used to it. It is losing its impact. People just leave 15, 20 minutes earlier to go to work.”

Billionaires' US$10m gift to Yale stirs debate in China

Asia Pacific

A Chinese billionaire couple's $10 million gift to Yale University has sparked controversy among China's Internet users. (AFP/Spencer Platt)

Billionaires' US$10m gift to Yale stirs debate in China


POSTED: 30 Oct 2014 13:36

BEIJING: A Chinese billionaire couple's US$10 million gift to Yale University sparked controversy among the country's Internet users Thursday (Oct 30), with some arguing that the money would be better spent on schools in China.

The endowment marks the latest gift to a prestigious US university by Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, the husband-and-wife duo behind real estate giant SOHO China. In July, the couple gave Harvard University US$15 million in the first stage of a US$100 million programme that Pan and Zhang say will fund disadvantaged Chinese students at top institutions across the globe.

"Every person's potential is like a hidden gem, and education is the tool that unlocks human potential," Pan said in a statement Wednesday announcing the Yale gift. "The SOHO China Scholarships aim to provide the best possible educational opportunities to the most outstanding students from Mainland China, enabling them to maximise their potential in their contribution to mankind," he added.

But the reaction online was largely negative, with some users criticising the couple for not giving the money to Chinese domestic institutions. "They're rushing to give money to foreigners, but what about all the poor children in China's mountainous areas?" one user wrote on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter.

"Isn't Pan just buying an 'entrance ticket' for his son to attend an elite university abroad?" another user asked.

Others defended the couple. "The same patriotic commenters who are yelling that this is 'the people's money' are actually making no contribution of their own to society," one Sina Weibo user wrote.

Pan is not only one of China's wealthiest people but also one of the country's most-celebrated "Big V" bloggers, with more than 17 million followers on Sina Weibo, at times drawing attention from the authorities.

China is the largest single source country for international students in the United States, providing more than a quarter of all foreign students, according to the Institute of International Education.

Many of those young people's studies are funded by their families, but Zhang and Pan maintain that their firm's "SOHO China Scholarships" are aimed at encouraging less-well-off Chinese students to apply to study abroad. "If you get in to Yale, you do not have to worry about the financial burden, the SOHO China Scholarships will help provide you with financial aid," Zhang said in Wednesday's statement.

- AFP/by

Love the motherland – talk crap!

The word is out: if you are one of Hong Kong’s great and good and you want some sweeties or a pat on the head from Beijing, you better start talking crap. Not that our establishment worthies need much encouragement. Involuntary pre-emptive shoe-shining is part of their DNA. They have just had a nasty shock after seeing Liberal Party leader James Tien dragged into a corner, given a severe smack on the bottom and sent to bed with no supper. And, hey – they’re just good at it anyway.

The financial bureaucrats are leading the way. Monetary Authority boss Norman Chan says the city’s pro-democracy protests will shake the foundation of the local financial market (yes, the one he oversees) and damage the rule of law. His predecessor Joseph Yam also spouts the ‘rule of law’ warning, predicts a loss of employment opportunities and fears a reduction in Beijing’s ‘preferential policies’ towards Hong Kong. For the record: those ‘foundations’ are 100% intact; the main threat to rule of law seems to come from overzealous law enforcers arresting people for wearing Captain America costumes; we have, if anything, a labour shortage; and the idea that Beijing has ‘preferential’ policies for Hong Kong is a myth.

It takes real skill to compress so much crap into so few words. Of course, it helps to present the doom as forecasts. Chances are that, by the time it becomes clear that the horrors didn’t happen, we’ll have forgotten that Norman and Joseph mentioned them. Won’t we?

Executive Council member and markets regulator Laura Cha takes a different approach: history crap. Unlike the hackneyed warnings about the economy and law, this is exotic and attention-grabbing. Indeed, it can be quite memorable. And that’s the problem. As ex-Security Secretary Regina Ip found with her comments 12 years ago about democracy and Hitler, this sort of crap gets you into hot water.

Laura says: “American slaves were liberated in 1861 but did not get voting rights until 107 years later, so why can’t Hong Kong wait for a while?”

Let’s not quibble over 1861 (Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation was a couple of years later, and the 13th Amendment was ratified in 1865). And let’s ignore ‘107 years later’, 1968 (the Civil Rights Act was in 1964). Her main assertion is simply wrong. Freed (male) slaves were given equal voting rights after the Civil War (the 15th Amendment, 1870). A white, especially southern, backlash – poll taxes, the KKK, lynchings, Jim Crow laws – gradually deprived them of those rights in the following decades.

More to the point, the whole analogy is absurd: is she likening Hongkongers to recently freed slaves? And what’s this stuff about ‘wait for a while’? If you have atrociously bad governance threatening livelihoods and possibly social order, you don’t ‘wait for a while’ to fix it.

Not everyone is joining in the Let’s Talk Crap for the Motherland campaign. A few of our biggest plutocrats have made vague let’s-all-be-happy-and-harmonious pronouncements, but most have beenreluctant to say anything. Beijing probably understands. Everyone hates the property tycoons, so it would only make things worse if they stood up and said they support CY Leung and think he’s brilliant – not least because everyone would know they are lying.

Then there’s the curious case of Tsang Yok-sing, a leading figure in the Communist Party’s local front, the DAB, and president of the Legislative Council. Bydisputing whether evil foreign forces are manipulating the Occupy Central protests and fomenting revolution, he is directly contradicting one of Beijing’s key Bits of Crap You Must Say You Believe (of course it’s all run and paid for by the CIA – look at all those supplies of bottled water the protestors have in their camps). He is a born member of the Communist ideological faith, not some instant-noodle patriot tycoon shoe-shining whoever’s in charge. He has no business empire in the Mainland for Beijing to hold hostage. He is in some ways in a privileged position. But at the same time, he more than anyone should be echoing the official line perfectly.

We can only assume that he has permission to talk sense to provide a badly needed flash of credibility amid the constant idiotic diatribe, to reassure us that the powers that be have not lost their minds, and there is some sort of sanity at the end of the tunnel. A reminder that the talking of crap is to prove loyalty to Beijing, not to change minds in Hong Kong.

Take a Photographic Tour of Hong Kong's Pro-Democracy ‘Umbrella Square’

Posted 29 October 2014 


Major landmarks in Admiralty protest site. Image created by DASH.

Pro-democracy protesters have occupied three major sites in Hong Kong for over a month now to demand an open nomination system for the candidates in the election of the city's top leader in 2017. So far, talks between officials and representatives of student activists haven't gone far — Hong Kong's government insists that the largely pro-Beijing nominating committee prescribed by mainland authorities cannot be changed. 

To prepare for a long-term occupation, protesters have turned the sit-in sites into orderly, functioning villages, decorated with political messages for the public by pro-democracy artists and designers.

The protest site in Admiralty is serving as the headquarters for Occupy Central, as the movement is called. Here, organizers hold public gatherings and report on the latest developments of the democracy movement. At last count, protesters have set up more than 1,600 tents.

Dash, a student activist media platform, created a map (see image at top) showing major landmarks at the Admiralty protest site. Below is a brief explanation of the landmarks with photos taken by Au Kalun, a former journalist and a famous blogger.

1. Umbrella Square at Harcourt Road

Umbrella Square. Photo taken by Au Kalun.

Protesters have occupied eight vehicle lanes across Harcourt and Connaught roads, with more than 1,600 tents erected here. A statue, Umbrella Man, designed by a 22-year-old university student, stands in the so-called Umbrella Square. 

Umbrella Man statue created by a 22-year-old student. Photo taken by Au Kalun.

2. Study Hall

Many students joined the class boycott to participate in the massive sit-in. To help them continue learning while on site, carpenters set up tables and chairs and volunteer teachers give classes in the study hall area.

Students reading and doing their homework in the study hall. Photo taken by Au Kalun,

3. Lennon Wall

The Lennon Wall in Admiralty is covered with colorful Post-it notes. People write their wishes and dreams for the future of Hong Kong and stick them onto the wall.

Lennon Wall covered with colorful Post-its. Photo taken by Au Kalun

4. Wall of Shame

The wall of shame is the iron gate outside the government headquarters. The iron gate was built in August after a protest against the development of Hong Kong's Northeast New Territories. The city's top leader, the chief executive, then ordered security to be strengthened surrounding the building with a two-meter-high iron gate to prevent people from entering the square. Protesters have turned the wall into a forum for posting critical comments about the government.

Two-meter-high iron gate outside the government headquarter is now called the wall of shame. Photo taken by Au Kalun.

5. Highway plant

Beijing continues to say that Occupy Central will not change the politically rally of Hong Kong, a special administrative region of mainland China. However, the students insist on “dreaming the impossible.” One artistic statement of this daring attitude is growing plants on the highway.

A plant that symbolizes the realization of an impossible dream. Photo taken by Au Kalun.

6. Honorable blockade

The police department has been under public scrutiny since they deployed tear gas to suppress peaceful protesters on September 28. Later, on October 3, opponents of the Occupy Central movement attacked protesters at Mongkok while the police turned a blind eye to the violence. Police denied that they allowed or worked with thugs to clear the protest site and stressed that the police department is “Guang ming lei luo” (光明磊落) – a Chinese term which carries a rich meaning to describe a person's character as upright and honorable, bright and straightforward, open and forthright, candid and sincere. Protesters and netizens have started using the term with a sense of sarcasm after the “dark corner” video was released.

A hugh blockade set up by the protesters. They called it a “honorable” blockade. Photo taken by Au Kalun.

7. Dark Corner

On October 14, protesters tried to block a major road, Lung Wo Road, that connects the eastern and western side of Hong Kong island in reaction to the police clearance of blockades that day. One of the protesters was handcuffed and brought to a dark corner where he was beaten by seven police officers. The beating was recorded by a TV news camera. The spot where the police violence took place became a major landmark in Admiralty.

The spot where seven police officers beat up a handcuffed protester is now marked as dark corner on the google map. Photo taken by Au Kalun.

8. Infrastructure

Construction workers have set up infrastructure, such as staircases, to help people crossing the highway block and enter the protest site. For the public bathroom near the government headquarters, people have donated all sorts of body care products like soap, toothbrushes, toner, napkins and tissue so that protesters can keep themselves clean while camping out.

You can find all sort of body care items in the public bathroom near the government headquarters. Photo taken by Au Kalun.

9. Empty Road and Tunnel

Connaught Road is a most congested road in Hong Kong island. The sit-in has transformed the city landscape and now the highway and the vehicle tunnel are empty and the air is free from exhaust.

The empty vehicle tunnel looks rather surreal. Photo taken by Au Kalun.

10. Harcourt Village and Umbrella Roundabout

Civic groups that promote alternative lifestyles have also move into the protest site. You can see people weaving cloth, making leather products, painting and planting vegetables in the highway. The umbrella roundabout installation outside the Legislative Council symbolizes the need to reflect on the path of society's development.

A simple weaving machine has been set up in the Harcourt village. Photo taken by Au Kalun.

Follow our in-depth coverage: Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution

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Written byOiwan Lam

October 29, 2014

Taking Back Hong Kong's Future


Taking Back Hong Kong's Future


OCTOBER 29, 2014

HONG KONG — Tuesday night marked one month since the dayHong Kong’s police attacked peaceful pro-democracy protesters with tear gas and pepper spray, inadvertently inspiring thousands more people to occupy the streets for the right to freely elect Hong Kong’s leaders.

I was being detained by the police on that day, Sept. 28, for having participated in a student-led act of civil disobedience in front of the government’s headquarters. I was held for 46 hours, cut off from the outside world. When I was released, I was deeply touched to see thousands of people in the streets, rallying for democracy. I knew then that the city had changed forever.

Since the return of Hong Kong toChina in 1997, less than a year after I was born, the people of this city have muddled through with a political system that leaves power in the hands of the wealthy and the well-connected. Many of us, especially people of my generation, had hoped democratic change was finally coming after years of promises from Beijing that we would eventually have free elections. Instead, in late August, Beijing ruled that Hong Kong’s oligarchy will remain in charge. Universal suffrage became a shattered dream.

But not for long. The thousands of protesters, most of them young, who continue to occupy main areas of the city are showing every day how political change will eventually come: through perseverance. Our peaceful democracy demonstration has demolished the myth that this is a city of people who care only about money. Hong Kongers want political reform. Hong Kongers want change.

My generation, the so-called post-90s generation that came of age after the territory was returned to China, would have the most to lose if Hong Kong were to become like just another mainland Chinese city, where information is not freely shared and the rule of law is ignored. We are angry and disappointed that Beijing and the local administration of Leung Chun-ying are trying to steal our future.

The post-90s generation is growing up in a vastly changed city from that of our parents and grandparents. Earlier generations, many of whom came here from mainland China, wanted one thing: a stable life. A secure job was always more important than politics. They worked hard and didn’t ask for much more than some comfort and stability.

The people of my generation want more. In a world where ideas and ideals flow freely, we want what everybody else in an advanced society seems to have: a say in our future.

Our bleak economic situation contributes to our frustrations. Job prospects are depressing; rents and real estate are beyond most young people’s means. The city’s wealth gap is cavernous. My generation could be the first in Hong Kong to be worse off than our parents.

My parents are not political activists. But over the past few months, because of my prominent role in the protest movement, my family’s home address has been disclosed online, and my parents have been harassed. Despite the aggravation, my parents respect my choice to participate in the demonstrations. They give me freedom to do what I believe is important.

Other young people are not so lucky. Many teenagers attend our protests without their parents’ blessing. They return home to criticism for fighting for democracy, and many end up having to lie to their parents about how they are spending their evenings. I’ve heard stories of parents deleting contacts and social media exchanges from their teenage children’s mobile phones to prevent them from joining activist groups.

My generation’s political awakening has been simmering for years. Nearly five years ago, young people led protests against the wasteful construction of a new rail line connecting Hong Kong to mainland China. In 2011, many young people, myself included, organized to oppose a national education program of Chinese propaganda that Beijing tried to force on us. I was 14 at the time, and all I could think was that the leaders in Beijing have no right to brainwash us with their warped view of the world.

If there is anything positive about the central government’s recent decision on universal suffrage, it’s that we now know where we stand. Beijing claims to be giving us one person, one vote, but a plan in which only government-approved candidates can run for election does not equal universal suffrage. In choosing this route, Beijing has showed how it views the “one country, two systems” formula that has governed the city since 1997. To Beijing, “one country” comes first.

I believe the August decision and the Hong Kong police’s strong reaction to the protesters — firing more than 80 canisters of tear gas into the crowds and using pepper spray and batons — was a turning point. The result is a whole generation has been turned from bystanders into activists. People have been forced to stand up and fight.

Today, there are many middle school students active in the pro-democracy movement: Students as young as 13 have boycotted classes, while teenagers of all ages have been staying overnight at the protest sites. They protest gracefully, despite being attacked by police and hired thugs.

Some people say that given the government’s firm stance against genuine universal suffrage, our demands are impossible to achieve. But I believe activism is about making the impossible possible. Hong Kong’s ruling class will eventually lose the hearts and minds of the people, and even the ability to govern, because they have lost a generation of youth.

In the future I may be arrested again and even sent to jail for my role in this movement. But I am prepared to pay that price if it will make Hong Kong a better and fairer place.

The protest movement may not ultimately bear fruit. But, if nothing else, it has delivered hope.

I would like to remind every member of the ruling class in Hong Kong: Today you are depriving us of our future, but the day will come when we decide your future. No matter what happens to the protest movement, we will reclaim the democracy that belongs to us, because time is on our side.

Joshua Wong Chi-fung is a co-founder of the student activist group Scholarism. This article was translated from the Chinese for The New York Times.

Legco chief: Protest may end up being dispersed by force

Jasper Tsang says the Hong Kong government and the authorities in Beijing will never cave to the protesters' demands. Photo: i-Cable

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Legco chief: Protest may end up being dispersed by force

Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang said force may be used to ultimately end the occupation of Hong Kong streets by democracy protesters.

In an interview with i-Cable News Wednesday, Tsang said the Hong Kong government and the authorities in Beijing will never cave to the protesters’ demands, the latest of which is a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

On Tuesday, the Hong Kong Federation of Students issued an open letter to Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, saying the government should put it through to the central government if it cannot resolve the political standoff.

Tsang said the protest leaders have set “unreasonable conditions” and all but shut the door to further dialogue with the government.

A meeting last week between student representatives and a government panel ended with accusations the officials had been vague and evasive.

“If I were the central government, I’d question the point of meeting the students if they’re going to say the same things,” Tsang said.

He said the protest might be forcibly dispersed after 80 or 90 percent of the protesters have left.

“If there are many people continuously occupying the streets and if clashes erupt, the police will be forced to intervene. The consequences could be serious,” he said.

Tsang said he has seen no sign of “external forces” in the movement.

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China advisory body fires HK lawmaker

James Tien (C) said he accepts the CPPCC's decision to revoke his membership, and will resign from Hong Kong's Liberal Party. (Photo: Roland Lim)

China advisory body fires HK lawmaker


POSTED: 29 Oct 2014 17:37

HONG KONG: China’s top advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), voted on Wednesday (Oct 29) to rescind the membership of Hong Kong lawmaker James Tien, according to a China News Service report. This came after Mr Tien had called on Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to resign.

CPPCC held the vote after Mr Tien said last week that Mr Leung had failed to govern Hong Kong during pro-democracy protests that have brought the city’s major thoroughfares to a standstill for a month, reported The Wall Street Journal. Mr Tien added that Mr Leung should tender his resignation.

The remarks had violated a CPPCC decision in March to support Mr Leung, the Journal quoted standing committee member Chan Wing-kee as saying.

Mr Tien said he has accepted CPPCC’s decision to revoke his membership. He will also resign as the leader of Hong Kong’s Liberal Party.

- CNA/xq

No foreign forces behind Hong Kong protests: senior lawmaker

The pro-democracy protester camp site in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong. (AFP PHOTO/ Nicolas ASFOURI)

No foreign forces behind Hong Kong protests: senior lawmaker


POSTED: 29 Oct 2014 18:25

HONG KONG: A senior pro-China lawmaker Wednesday (Oct 29) disputed allegations foreign forces are behind Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests, contradicting claims by the city's leader and Beijing.

Jasper Tsang, the president and speaker of the city's de facto parliament, said he did not believe foreigners were a driving force behind a month of rallies and roadblocks calling for full democracy in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city.

"I can't see it happening," he said in an interview with Cable TV. "Unless you treat foreign diplomats expressing concerns as an intervention by external forces. I think their concerns, raised objectively, were not intended to influence, dominate or instigate any side," he said.

Parts of the Asian financial hub have been paralysed by the protests calling on Beijing to rescind its insistence that candidates for the city's next leader be vetted by a loyalist committee before standing for election in 2017.

Beijing has refused to back down over what has become the most serious challenge to Chinese rulers since a crackdown on a pro-democracy movement in 1989 in the nation's capital.

Embattled Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said earlier this month that "external forces" from other countries had been encouraging the mass sit-ins, but refused to identify them. "I shan't go into details, but this is not entirely a domestic movement," he said in a television interview.

Commentaries on the mainland have also increasingly described the Hong Kong protests as a "colour revolution" - a term used by Beijing for political movements funded by international forces.

Protesters have strongly denied allegations they are foreign-controlled and say the demonstrations are motivated by a lack of political progress and growing anger at increasing inequality. 

- AFP/xq

Police: Occupy Central has created sense of “lawlessness” in Hong Kong, threatening the judicial system and rule of law

Police: Occupy Central has created sense of “lawlessness” in Hong Kong, threatening the judicial system and rule of law

By Coconuts Hong Kong October 29, 2014 / 10:46 HKT
Occupy Central, Hong Kong, umbrella

Protesters face off with riot police in a tunnel on Lung Wo Road in Admiralty on Oct. 14 (Laurel Chor/Coconuts Media)

The police said yesterday that the Umbrella Movement appears to have “no end in sight” and that their illegal occupation of roads around Hong Kong has created a “sense of lawlessness” and is eroding the rule of law in the city.
Hui Sir, the police’s PR guy who gives a daily press conference on the protests, again pointed out that protesters continue to ignore the court orders to clear certain roads in Mong Kok and Admiralty.
He noted that the Law Society of Hong Kong has expressed its “deep concerns over the open defiance of court injunctions”.
The Law Society released a statementon Monday claiming that anyone refusing to comply with court orders would be “seriously threatening [Hong Kong’s] judicial system and undermining our core values”.
The police rep believes that “society would agree” that the Umbrella Movement was no longer peaceful and non-violent, and that only criminals would benefit from the open defiance of the law.
Hear that, people? Keep illegally blocking the roads and you’re also indirectly abetting other crimes, like theft and murder and stuff!
Hui Sir finished his speech with a thinly-veiled threat: “We have been adopting a very tolerant and restrained approach in handling the illegal occupation protesters. We do not want to see a large number of persons getting injured, especially students, during large-scale confrontations.”
Reminds us of Canadian comedian Russell Peters' bit about his father's warning before he'd get disciplined for misbehaving: "Somebody's going to get hurt real bad... Somebody. Not going to say who." 

How Low Can You Go: CY Leung’s approval rating at record low

By Laurel Chor October 29, 2014 / 13:59 HKT

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Student protesters hold a large poster of CY Leung's head as they stand outside his official residence on Sep. 27 (Laurel Chor/Coconuts Media)

A HKU survey found that CY Leung’s public support ratings are at their lowest level since took office, at 38.9 marks out of 100, a decrease of 1.7 marks from the last time the same survey was conducted only two weeks ago.

With 62 percent of the more than 1,000 respondents giving a vote of no confidence in Leung, and 23 percent giving a vote of confidence, the chief executive has an approval rating of –39 percent. Yes, negative.

It’s also no shocker that the younger the Hongkonger, the less likely they are to approve of Leung.

The vast majority (87 percent) of people aged between 18 and 29 oppose Leung’s leadership, and that figure steadily decreases as you move up the age brackets. For those between 30 and 49, 62 percent opposed him, while 51 percent of those aged 50 or up were against him. (HKU apparently doesn't expect your opinions to change after you hit the half-century mark.)

In the same telephone survey, HKU also asked people about their thoughts on the Hong Kong government. The government as a whole fared better than its leader, with a net satisfaction of –4 percent.

If the government did a little better, their satisfaction rating might just reach zero percent.  You can do it, government!

The survey also found that 18 percent of respondents claimed to have participated in the “mass gatherings of the Occupy Movement”. Unsurprisingly, 94 percent of people who said they had taken part opposed Leung as chief executive, although 54 percent of people who said they had not joined were still against his leadership.
Based on HKU’s findings, we can roughly estimate that a whopping 1.29 million Hongkongers have participated in some way in Occupy Central over the last month, which perhaps would come as no surprise to those who have experienced some of the recent traffic jams.

Nine in ten Hong Kong protesters will stay on the streets for a year, says tiny Reuters survey

By Coconuts Hong Kong October 29, 2014 / 15:21 HKT

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An informal on-the-ground survey of Occupy Central protesters by Reuters has gleaned some interesting results, although its sample size is rather pathetic. The printed questionnaire, which was filled in by a measly 121 people at last night’s one-month anniversary rallies, asked various questions, such as how long protesters plan to stay on the streets, what’s their motivation and who would they vote for in the event of free elections.

The results are as follows:

- Nearly nine out of 10 (87 percent) say they would stay on the streets for more than a year if their demands for universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive elections aren’t met. Looks like your bus route’s going to remain screwed for a while yet then!

- 93 percent said they they would regroup and occupy other sites if they were forcibly removed from the current occupied areas.

- 59 percent said China’s increasing control over Hong Kong was a major motivating factor for protesting

- 38 percent cited wealth inequality

- Surprisingly, 55 percent said they did not want Hong Kong to be completely independent from China, compared to 45 percent who did. There you go, China, more than half of the protesters still like you. No need to feel so threatened after all! 

- Nearly three quarters (73 percent) claim they would not be swayed by party affiliation and would vote for the “best candidate” if Beijing allowed open nominations in 2017, while only around one in five said they would definitely vote for a democrat.

Thanks Reuters, interesting stuff. But you might want to print a few more copies out next time. It’s cheap in Hong Kong, you know?

Bomb scare: Teenage boy tries to blow up Hong Kong police station

By Coconuts Hong Kong October 29, 2014 / 15:51 HKT

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A teenage boy with a history of mental illness entered Aberdeen Police Station last night at 7pm, threatening to blow it up with homemade explosives as he didn’t want to live any longer.

The 15-year-old was said to be carrying a lighter and a box containing five test tubes of triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a primary high explosive susceptible to heat. The boy said he was going to let off the explosive because “he did not want to live any longer”, reports the SCMP.

He was later taken to his home at Wah On House on the Wah Fu Estate in Southern District, where officers found numerous other suspected explosives. Dozens of residents were evacuated as the haul was destroyed by bomb disposal officers.

Police have not revealed the boy’s identity, but he apparently told officers he learnt how to make bombs through books.

Surprise Surprise! Hong Kong Liberal Party delegate axed from CPPCC for calling on CY Leung to resign

By Coconuts Hong Kong October 29, 2014 / 16:50 HKT

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As was expected, Liberal Party leader and business tycoon James Tien has been axed from his position in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) after he suggested in a radio interview Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung resign.

A vote was held this afternoon after Tien’s comments on Friday, which break a resolution set in March this year that states all members of the committee must "resolutely support the chief executives of Hong Kong and Macau to govern in accordance with laws”.

Chairman of the CPPCC Yu Zhengsheng reportedly said this morning that delegates are free to say whatever they want, aaaaas long as as you don’t criticise local government or call for the chief executive to resign in a non-“constructive” manner. Obviously Tien hasn't mastered that constructive criticism thing. 

It is the first time a Hong Kong delegate has been sacked from the CPPCC because of political views.

Fun fact: In 2003, Tien forced former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa to withdraw controversial national security legislation after resigning from the Executive Council shortly after the July 1 march.

Ooh, he’s such a bad boy!

Hong Kong police disperse pro-democracy protesters with tear gas - video

 Hong Kong police disperse pro-democracy protesters with tear gas - video

Hong Kong police fire volleys of tear gas to disperse pro-democracy protesters as demonstrators mark the one month anniversary of the start of their campaign on Tuesday. Tens of thousands of protesters swarmed the roads in Hong Kong on September 28 in response to Beijing's decision on August 31 to select and screen candidates for the upcoming 2017 elections

Hong Kong protests bring crisis of confidence for traditional media

Young turn to social media as newspapers and TV stations owned by local tycoons take care not to offend mainland China

 Students demonstrate in Hong Kong, where protests are now in their second month. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Jonathan Kaiman in Hong Kong

Wednesday 29 October 2014 11.01 +11:00

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Every time Alice Lau visits Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, she wears two photo ID badges, slung around her neck in a clear plastic sheath.

The first badge identifies her as a full-time employee of a pro-government newspaper. Every day, her employer condemns the unprecedented protests, now in their second month, for wreaking havoc on the city’s transportation networks and economic vitality. The second card identifies her as a volunteer reporter for an outspoken Facebook-based news outlet with more than 100,000 subscribers.


One badge always obscures the other. By day, she displays the first. By night, as she camps out in protest zones and faces down riot police, she displays the second. Few protesters read her newspaper, but most have probably seen her work.

Alice Lau is a pseudonym. Revealing her name or employer could get her fired, she said, and revealing her Facebook platform could invite undue scrutiny. “It’s not like I want people to think I’m a hero,” she said over iced milk tea at a McDonald’s in Admiralty district, the protest’s de facto core. “I just feel like I need to use my talents to help Hong Kong, to help my community. I’m just an ordinary citizen.”

Hong Kong’s traditional media is suffering a crisis of confidence. Many of the city’s most influential newspapers and TV stations are owned by local tycoons who, wary of jeopardising their mainland business ties, have taken great pains to maintain a conservative editorial line. The city’s young people have responded by turning to social media for news – and thus, the ongoing “umbrella movement” may be the best-documented social movement in history, with even its quieter moments generating a maelstrom of status updates, shares and likes.

A man naps next to a pile of newspapers in Nathan Road, Hong Kong. Photograph: Jerome Favre/EPA

“Press freedom in Hong Kong is not in a good state – it’s not an authoritarian regime yet, but the pressure is on,” said Mark Simon, a senior executive at Next Media, the city’s only openly pro-democratic media conglomerate. “What’s saving the city now are these group acts of journalistic courage.”


The protests’ intensely public nature has fostered a heightened sense of caution. Although few protesters expect a Tiananmen-style crackdown, which would almost certainly spur an exodus from the city, many fear that Beijing will find ways to persecute organisers and high-profile supporters in a gradual, retroactive campaign. Many volunteer supply booths at the protest sites prominently display “no photo” signs, a plea to keep their operators’ identities under wraps.

Simon said that a crackdown, while unlikely, would be devastating for the city. “Can Hong Kong survive with [student leader] Joshua Wong in jail, or [Next Media CEO] Jimmy Lai in jail – do you think Hong Kong could survive that? I say no. It won’t work. The world’s not going to treat you the same.”

Since Beijing assumed control of Hong Kong in a 1997 handover, it has ruled the the city under a “one country, two systems” arrangement, granting it freedoms unknown on the mainland, including an independent judiciary, freedom of assembly, and an unrestricted press. Among these, the last is perhaps the most conspicuous – the city has 18 newspapers and a string of scandal-hungry TV and radio stations, many of them notorious for broadcasting unscrupulous celebrity gossip and political exposés.

The protesters demand the ability to choose the city’s top leader by “genuine universal suffrage” in 2017. Their rebuke to the alternative – a Beijing-backed electoral framework which would only allow party loyalists on the ballot – stems in part from a creeping anxiety that central authorities aim to gradually take these freedoms away.

Next Media has found itself on the frontline. Since 12 October, mobs of pro-Beijing counter-protesters have formed sporadic blockades to halt deliveries of the group’s flagship newspaper, Apple Daily. Cyber-attacks have repeatedly hobbled the paper’s website. Last week, knife-wielding assailants hijacked delivery trucks andpoured soy sauce over stacks of the tabloid, ruining 15,200 copies.

Analysts say the gulf between pro-Beijing and pro-democratic media is widening. “Seven Demon Police Surround and Beat Protester for Four Minutes,” Apple Daily headlined a story about a recent instance of suspected police brutality. “Police Assaulted,” reported the pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao. The pro-establishment television station TVB, which first broadcast footage of the beating, said in an early-morning broadcast that the protester was “punched and kicked”. Later, after the report prompted a public outcry, they replaced that voiceover with anothersaying that the police may have “used excessive force”.

“This is a demonstration of what we’ve been fearing for years,” said Shirley Yam, vice-chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association and a columnist for the SouthChina Morning Post. “When the debate is not about a controversial issue like this, then you don’t feel [the self-censorship] so strongly. But when such a controversy comes around, then you can tell how the controlled press actually works – why Beijing emphasises this so much.”

Protesters fill the streets in Hong Kong. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Altogether, at least 24 journalists have been assaulted while covering the protests, according to Hong Kong journalist groups – some by counter-protesters, others by police. On Saturday night, three journalists were attacked by a mob of counter-protesters during an “anti-Occupy” rally by the city’s Star Ferry pier; one, a reporter for the moderate broadcaster RTHK, was sent to hospital.

“This is uncharted territory for everyone, and that’s just the general state of affairs,” said Francis Moriarty, chairman of the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club’s press freedom committee. “The police have at times confused the messenger with the message, and reporters have had to bear the brunt of it.”

The protesters see a clear worst-case scenario, just across the border. Mainland Chinese media covered the protests extensively while almost never showing the demonstrators themselves or articulating their demands. Official editorials repeatedly claim that the movement is backed by “hostile foreign forces” intent on fomenting a “colour revolution” to undermine Beijing. State TV stations interview bystanders who, speaking in Mandarin – which is not widely spoken in Hong Kong – blame the protesters for taking secret payouts to hit the streets.

After milk tea on Tuesday night, Lau stepped out into the main protest site, a sprawl of tents and pro-democracy art installations occupying a stretch of highway by the city’s government offices. Overhead, large banners hanging from a footbridge read: “Do you hear the people sing?” and: “Everyone can be Batman.” She walked past small clusters of black-clad university students sitting cross-legged on the ground, chatting and playing guitar. Nearly all of them gripped smartphones.

Lau found a secluded swath of pavement about 30 metres from the students, and pitched a small tent. The spot would be quiet, she said – a good place to get some rest. After all, she had to go to work in the morning.

Two survey ‘zeroes’ show Hong Kong youth distrust of Beijing

Young Hong Kong people cannot be easily manipulated by the foreign media because they are capable of critical thinking, according to a commentator. Photo: HKEJ

HomeHong KongLocal

Two survey ‘zeroes’ show Hong Kong youth distrust of Beijing

Recent surveys showing zero respondents among young people regarding their identity and the month-old democracy protest movement, underline their basic thinking about these issues, commentator TY Ko writes in Tuesday’s edition of the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

An overwhelming number of the respondents support the movement, with just 7.7 percent against it, according to the Center for Communication and Public Opinion Survey of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

There were no respondents from the same age group to “no opinion/decline to answer” question.  

This means Hong Kong’s youths have everything to say about what is going on with the pro-democracy movement, Ko said.

Paul Lee, a professor at the CUHK School of Journalism and Communication, said the views of younger people on the issue are very clear. 

A separate survey by the Hong Kong Transition Project of Hong Kong Baptist University showed zero percent of student respondents consider themselves “Chinese”. 

This is the first time zero was measured in the survey since records began in the 1990s, said Michael DeGolyer, a professor of government and international studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.

About 65 percent of the respondents said they are “Hong Kong Chinese”, with “Hongkonger” coming in second at 24 percent. Just 11 percent consider themselves “Chinese-Hongkonger”.

The two surveys demonstrate a trend of disaffection among young people toward the central government in Beijing and their disapproval of being called Chinese, Ko said.

The figures support public opinion that Beijing has lost the hearts of a whole generation in Hong Kong to the protest campaign. 

This cannot be blamed on foreign powers, particularly international media, manipulating young people because they are capable of critical thinking, he said.

The central government should admit that its image-building propaganda targeting Hong Kong youth has been a complete failure and violence by anti-protest groups on the students has helped fuel their distrust of Beijing.

In some sense, the anti-protest groups, who gather mostly in residential areas, have caused more distress to ordinary citizens than the protesters.

Residents who are politically neutral tend to have a bigger dislike of anti-protest groups than the student protesters.

– Contact us at


Does ‘one country, two systems’ exist at the party’s pleasure?

Demonstrators hold umbrellas outside the Central Government Offices in Admiralty. The protests mark a month since police used tear gas in a failed attempt to disperse students. Photo: Bloomberg

HomeHong KongLocal

Does ‘one country, two systems’ exist at the party’s pleasure?

If the Chinese leadership continues to rule out any concession in the face of the month-long student protests and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying sticks to his hard line, Hong Kong will be bogged down in an abyss of social division, estrangement and paralyzed governance. The rule of law and people’s livelihood are also doomed to suffer.

Under the guise of patriotism, Beijing has apparently placed political allegiance to the party on top of its pledges to Hong Kong. Regrettably the one country, two systems principle of the Basic Law has been distorted beyond recognition: Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy now only exists at the Communist Party’s pleasure.

Originally, the one country, two systems principle reflects a pragmatic approach when it comes to the territory’s relations with the mainland. But under the authoritarian one-party system, it’s clear that the only way for any local official or civil servant — including those in Hong Kong — to stay safe and advance his career is to be tractable and follow the party’s instructions.

With its economic triumphs, China nowadays regards itself as a superpower. Top communists are taking all the credit for the country’s successful transformation over the past decades.

Along with the mainland’s remarkable economic feat, Beijing has become more conspicuous and is no longer hesitant about asserting its influence on Hong Kong. Its downright political requirement that principal officials must “love the country and Hong Kong” is just one example.

Hong Kong takes pride in its free society but sadly, with a more assertive central leadership, local leftists and members of the establishment camp are increasingly putting on superficial paeans to Beijing. Under such circumstances, the “one person, one vote” pledge for Hongkongers is no longer immune to the Communist Party’s “Chinese characteristics”.

The ongoing student protests to pursue the genuine right to a free vote are now labeled by Beijing as treacherous and subversive.

Among all the harsh accusations, only a few, like disruption to road traffic and nearby residents and shops, are made on sensible grounds. Other charges like involvement of evil overseas forces, endangering national security or advocating Hong Kong independence are totally fictitious.

Even if there are some western countries trying to meddle with the territory’s constitutional development, given China’s comprehensive strength, is such level of vigilance and fear really warranted? Mainlanders are no strangers to groundless political accusations but it seems that these have already spread to Hong Kong.

Unlike communist cadres, local officials should understand the motive of civil disobedience and know well that student protesters are desperate for their election right. But apparently officials have put Beijing ahead of Hongkongers as the way to climb up the ladder, and the Hong Kong government dare not challenge the National People’s Congress.

Officials who turn a deaf ear and show no compassion for protesters can keep their official jobs safe but they are doing so at the cost of a free mind because they have to submit themselves to their bosses in Beijing. As they put Hong Kong’s freedom and core values in peril, they become victims as well.

Premier Li Keqiang reiterated “one country, two systems, Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong and a high degree of autonomy” during his visit to Europe last week. If he meant his words, there is still hope.

But if the Communist Party is determined to tighten its grip on local affairs to make one country, two systems subject to the party’s will and mandate, then it would be more than a genuine election that is at stake. It would be the very way of our life as we know it.

Translation of Lam Hang-chi’s commentary that appeared in the Oct. 21 issue of the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

Translation by Frank Chen

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founder of the Hong Kong Economic Journal and a famed Hong Kong news commentator

Liar, liar! US group defends itself against China’s accusations of meddling in HK democracy movements

By Sakshi Kaushik October 26, 2014 / 12:27 HKT

We all know that China is famous for pulling the “It’s all your fault” card when desperate times call for desperate measures, but since Beijing blamed the National Endowment Department (NED), an American nongovernmental organisation, for instigating the whole Occupy Central pro-democracy movement earlier this month, the group has finallyresponded with a large snort. About time guys.

Louisa Greve, vice president of the NED’s Asia, Middle East and North Africa programmes, spoke to Voice of America this week, calling the accusations of the group acting as agents of US foreign domestic policy an “insult” to the desires of Hongkongers and their efforts in the fight towards democracy.

Various pro-Beijing Hong Kong news outlets and Chinese state media reported that NED has been funding and advising the Occupy Central movements since its beginning on Sept. 28. Some even believe that the involvement precedes this date, and goes all the way back to April, when Greve met with Benny Tai and Martin Lee in Washington as part of a NED-led democracy forum.

Greve, however, has countered this view by stating that the “NED has a budget which is paid for by American taxpayers, but its decision making is not part of American foreign policy”. Likely story.

Although the NED’s Hong Kong project is smaller than those in other countries, its partners, the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, the US National Democratic Institute and the US-based Solidarity Centre, accept consistent grants.

Director of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, Law Yul-kai, concurs with Greve by saying, “We are not reporting to the US government”, and are only required to send a year-end summary of its activities to the NED.

In response to China’s over-sensitive, touchy side, Greve tells VOA, “It’s not unusual for governments that are authoritarian and lack popular legitimacy through a vote to blame foreigners for citizens’ discontent.”

Boom. China, it’s not nice to tell tales.

Photo: Laurel Chor, Coconuts Media

CY Leung and six news unions condemn assault of four journalists at anti-Occupy rally

By Laurel Chor October 27, 2014 / 11:44 HKT

An Al Jazeera journalist films a man who was harassing her as a police officer tries to stop him on Oct. 3 in Causeway Bay. (Laurel Chor/Coconuts Media)

On Saturday night, two cameramen and two reporters from TVB and RTHK were assaulted at an anti-Occupy Central Rally in Tsim Sha Tsui.

A RTHK reporter said that someone tried to grab her press pass and her backpack, and that she was kicked her in the leg and body after she fell down. RTHK stated that they would take legal action.

A reporter and two cameramen from TVB said that a group of people pulled on their clothes before assaulting them, reports RTHK.

The police told the press that a 61-year-old man was arrested for the assaults. They are currently investigating the four cases, which have been classified as “assault occasioning actual bodily harm”, “criminal damage” and “common assault”.

Six local news unions released a joint statement yesterday, declaring that “the violent acts have trampled on press freedom and threatened journalists' personal safety”.
They called on organisers of rallies to shoulder the responsibility for ensuring the safety of journalists, and said that employees should provide them with adequate safety gear and insurance policies.
The statement also asserted that journalists have the “right to refuse to cover an event when they reasonably believe that their personal safety is at risk”.
CY Leung’s office also released astatement yesterday condemning the “savage act”, and saying that he and the government have “all along respect[ed] press freedom”.

It's an oddly defensive statement, but we appreciate the sentiment.

Hui Sir, the police officer who gives the daily Occupy Central press briefings, reminded the public of a rule that most learn in kindergarten: “Even if people hold different views, or have discontent, they should not resort to violence.”

Check out this video we took of an Al Jazeera cameraman being harassed by anti-Occupiers on Oct. 3 in Causeway Bay:
And here's our Coconuts TV Raw Report for Occupy Central on Oct. 3, when our own cameraman was punched in Mong Kok: