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Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Leaders Signal Likely Defeat

  • VOA News

Pro-democracy activists clash with police outside the Hong Kong hotel where Chinese official Li Fei is staying Sept. 1, 2014.

Pro-democracy activists clash with police outside the Hong Kong hotel where Chinese official Li Fei is staying Sept. 1, 2014.

The leaders of Hong Kong's pro-democracy Occupy Central protest movement are admitting they may not be successful at getting China to enact electoral reforms.

The acknowledgement by two of the group's senior organizers comes after Beijing announced Sunday it will censor candidates for the territory's 2017 election.

Occupy co-founder Chan Kin-man said Tuesday that Beijing likely will not reverse its decision. He said the goal of achieving universal suffrage is close to failure.

It appears to be a reversal by the group, which has threatened to shut down Hong Kong's financial district if Beijing did not promise free elections.

Chan says those protests will proceed at an unspecified date, but both he and co-founder Benny Tai say the turnout will likely fall short of the group's goal of 10,000.

The leaders told media outlets this was likely due to the "pragmatic" stance of the Hong Kong population.

Opposition activists have for months been trying to win public support for the protest movement, though concerns lingered about the possibility of political unrest.

Clashes erupt

Minor clashes broke out Monday in the hours following the ruling by Beijing's rubber-stamp parliament on the second day of large protest rallies.

Hong Kong police said they arrested 19 demonstrators late Monday for illegal assembly and obstructing police outside the hotel where a senior Chinese official was staying. No injuries were reported.

Local media said three others were arrested for disorderly conduct at a separate demonstration, which police dispersed using pepper spray. The activists disrupted a speech by Li Fei, deputy director of China's National People's Congress Standing Committee, who was trying to explain Beijing's stance.

The People's Congress Standing Committee ruled Sunday that candidates to become Hong Kong's next leader must receive a majority vote from a "broadly representative" nominating committee that opponents say will be stacked with pro-Beijing members.

That ruling makes it unlikely that any opposition candidates will get on the ballot for the 2017 election.

Since 1997, when Britain returned control of the territory to China, all of Hong Kong's chief executives have been chosen by a small election committee stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists drawn mostly from business sectors.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Mandarin and Cantonese services.

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