News / Asia

Hong Kong Ends Voting in Referendum, Readies for Rally

A guide leads a woman to a polling station during a civil referendum held by Occupy Central in Hong Kong, June 29, 2014.
A guide leads a woman to a polling station during a civil referendum held by Occupy Central in Hong Kong, June 29, 2014.
VOA News

More than 780,000 votes were cast by Sunday, the final day of an unofficial referendum on how Hong Kong's next leader should be chosen.

The ballot has been branded illegal by local and mainland Chinese authorities.

Hong Kong, a free-wheeling, capitalist hub of more than 7 million people, returned to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, with wide-ranging autonomy under a “one country, two systems”  formula, along with an undated promise of universal suffrage.

China has promised to let all Hong Kong residents vote for their next leader in 2017. But it said candidates must be approved by a nomination committee.

Pro-democracy advocates are incensed at current plans for the election of Hong Kong's next chief executive - who is currently appointed by a 1,200-strong pro-Beijing committee.

Annual protest rally

Tensions are running high in the former British colony before the anniversary of its handover to China, a traditional day of protest.

Organizers of Tuesday's rally expect it to be the largest since the handover with upwards of 500,000 people expected, as frustration grows over Beijing's tightening control over the city.

"Public sentiment has dropped to the lowest point since 2003. I believe more people will come out," Johnson Yeung, one of the organizers, told AFP.

Democracy activists want the nomination process to be open to everyone, in line with international standards, and have threatened to lock down the Central area of Hong Kong, home to some of Asia's biggest companies and banks, if the city fails to adopt a strong democratic method for electing its next leader.

“I think the signal has already been sent to Beijing that Hong Kong people are prepared to express their views on universal suffrage,” said Benny Tai, associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong and one of the organizers of the vote and the movement, Occupy Central with Love and Peace.

“We hope the result of the civil referendum will be taken seriously by the SAR (Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong) and Chinese government.”

Supporters of Caring Hong Kong Power, a pro-China group, march to the police headquarters during a demonstration against an unofficial referendum and the so-called Occupy Central protest movement in Hong Kong, June 29, 2014.Supporters of Caring Hong Kong Power, a pro-China group, march to the police headquarters during a demonstration against an unofficial referendum and the so-called Occupy Central protest movement in Hong Kong, June 29, 2014.
x
Supporters of Caring Hong Kong Power, a pro-China group, march to the police headquarters during a demonstration against an unofficial referendum and the so-called Occupy Central protest movement in Hong Kong, June 29, 2014.
Supporters of Caring Hong Kong Power, a pro-China group, march to the police headquarters during a demonstration against an unofficial referendum and the so-called Occupy Central protest movement in Hong Kong, June 29, 2014.

The unofficial 10-day vote, organized by pro-democracy activists, was conducted partly online and partly at physical ballot boxes. Voters were given three options on how the next chief executive should be chosen.

Each would allow voters to propose candidates for the top job, and all are therefore considered unacceptable by China and the Hong Kong government.

Voters are required to give their identification number to prevent cheating.

Pro-Beijing groups

At a “polling booth” at Chinese University of Hong Kong on Sunday, a small group of pro-Beijing supporters with mainland accents held up banners denouncing the vote, while four people jumped into the city's Victoria Harbor to protest against the referendum and were quickly rescued.

Another pro-Beijing group, Caring Hong Kong Power, marched through the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay carrying bright orange balloons and urging people not to vote.

Group spokeswoman Lee Ka-ka handed a petition to police signed by 30,000 against the Occupy Central group. She also urged police to “act strongly against the movement.”

Results of the online referendum are expected to be released at around 11 p.m. local time on Sunday, with the overall tally set to be announced on Monday.

Visitors take aim with rifles at a military base during an open day event of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Hong Kong, June 29, 2014.Visitors take aim with rifles at a military base during an open day event of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Hong Kong, June 29, 2014.
x
Visitors take aim with rifles at a military base during an open day event of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Hong Kong, June 29, 2014.
Visitors take aim with rifles at a military base during an open day event of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Hong Kong, June 29, 2014.

The last day of voting coincided with China's military opening its barracks in Hong Kong to the public, giving curious tourists a rare glimpse inside two outposts, as tensions between local democracy activists and Beijing continues to heat up.

The 10-day poll, organized by Occupy Central, comes at a time when many Hong Kong residents fear civil liberties are being eroded and amid growing concern about the rule of law in the Asian financial center.

Civil liberty fears

On Friday, Hong Kong lawyers dressed in black marched through the city to protest against the wording in a white paper released this month by Beijing in which it said being patriotic and “loving the country” is a basic requirement for the city's administrators, including lawyers.

The lawyers were taunted by pro-Beijing groups shouting into loud hailers as they marched to the Court of Final Appeal.

Many recent rallies in Hong Kong have seen scuffles break out between pro and anti-Beijing groups, including the 25th anniversary of the June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy protests in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square, an event that had always been peaceful in Hong Kong.

Tai said on Sunday the white paper, which reasserted Beijing's control over the former British colony, had “backfired” and prompted more people to vote.

Pro-Beijing newspapers, Chinese officials and Hong Kong business tycoons have strongly criticized the Occupy Central campaign, saying it could hurt the city's standing as a financial center.

The big four audit firms were the latest to join the chorus, when they took out adverts in local Hong Kong newspapers on Friday warning that investors could leave the city if mass protests go ahead.

Activists say it is a peaceful movement demanding a “genuine choice” for Hong Kong's voters.

The unofficial referendum is seen as an important test for pro-democracy activists who believe the public are dissatisfied with the pace of political reform promised by Beijing.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: jonathan huang from: canada
June 30, 2014 10:52 AM
in ten days only 10% HKers came to vote including online votes (90%). it says everything, majority about 80% HKer disagree with this "democratic" farce.
HK is part of China, candidates must be authorized by the central congress of china!
BTW, who nominates american president candidates? are those candidates voted by whole americans?


by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
June 29, 2014 9:40 PM
This kind of referendum is feared by China. Particularly since it is completely organized by amateurs and from the grass-roots. Despite its imperfection, at least it shows that one out of ten people in H K demand a fair universal suffrage type of election.


by: Van from: Canada
June 29, 2014 6:48 PM
How did the reporters know mainland accents as he/she said in the news: "pro-Beijing supporters with mainland accents?

Actually many pro-democracy activists in HK are from mainland, and they should have so-called mainland accents. But I doubt if the reporter can tell the difference in Cantonese accents in HK.

The reporter of this news didn't even talk with Pro-Beijing groups,and just talked about so called pro-democracy group members. The so called mainland accents (for pro-beijing group) from the above news was actually from his talking with Pro-democracy groups. The news is not convincing since the reporter didn't talk with both sides and didn't truthfully report both sides thoughts.


by: Van from: Canada
June 29, 2014 6:37 PM
What has hongkong done people during 1900-1997 when UK governed HK. HK people have never asked for true democracy, nominating candidates although UK didn't allow HK people for free election of HK leaders. Under UK governance, UK has army in HK and UK just assigned a governor to HK for dictatorship. Come on, HK, what you have done for your freedom at that time.

UK didn't build democracy for HK in the past 100 years, and China has agreed to realize democracy in HK in 2017, which is much better thing. China just asked for approval for the candidate , it is OK since HK is part of China anyway. Look at all democracy in the world, there are seldom candidates nominated by civilians.


by: Adam9 from: Dong Nai, Vietnam
June 29, 2014 12:56 PM
If we did something like this in Vietnam we would get arrested and locked up for sure.

In Response

by: Adam9
June 30, 2014 7:20 PM
Awesome! About 25% of eligible voters voted.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid