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Occupy Central Vows to Not Back Down

  • VOA News

Occupy Central protesters confront police, Hong Kong, Aug. 31, 2014.

Occupy Central protesters confront police, Hong Kong, Aug. 31, 2014.

Hong Kong's pro-democracy protest movement is vowing to not back down in its fight for free elections, a day after apparently conceding defeat to Beijing.

In a statement late Tuesday, the Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement insisted that Hong Kongers "won't accept failure on our road to democracy."

The group has for months threatened to shut down Hong Kong's central financial district if China does not agree to allow universal suffrage in the 2017 election for the territory's chief executive.

But after China's rubber stamp parliament on Sunday passed legislation essentially requiring all candidates to be approved by Beijing, Occupy leaders implied they would back down.

Occupy co-founder Chan Kin-man told media outlets on Tuesday that Beijing is not likely to be persuaded by more protests. He said the group is close to failure and public support is waning.

The comments were seen by many as an admission of defeat. On Wednesday, the front page of the South China Morning Post asked, "Is This Goodbye to Occupy Central?"

Addressing those concerns, Occupy said in its latest statement that "it is not correct to say that we have less support from the community after Beijing has made the decision." It said new supporters have joined because they are angry about Beijing's ruling.

The group promised to continue protests and to maintain a "spirit of resistance," saying this is particularly important "when democratic reform seems unlikely in the coming years."

Occupy is still planning to hold a mass protest against China's decision in the coming days, but says it will not give the date or place because it fears this may cause disruptions to the plan.

Under the ruling passed Sunday by China's parliament, candidates to become Hong Kong's next leader must receive a majority vote from a nominating committee likely stacked by pro-Beijing representatives.

If, as expected, Hong Kong lawmakers block the pro-Beijing legislation when it comes up for a vote early next year, the territory will likely continue electing its leaders in the same way it currently does.

Since the territory was handed back to China by Britain, 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.