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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.