News / Asia

Thousands March in Hong Kong in Escalating Battle for Democracy

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters march in the streets to demand universal suffrage and urge Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to step down in Hong Kong, Jan. 1, 2014.
Thousands of pro-democracy protesters march in the streets to demand universal suffrage and urge Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to step down in Hong Kong, Jan. 1, 2014.
Reuters
Thousands protested in Hong Kong on Wednesday pressing China to allow full democracy in the city as a battle intensifies over  Beijing's attempts to control the outcome of a planned direct election for the city's leader in 2017.

Beijing had promised direct elections in the former British colony as the goal for 2017, but the devil is in the details of the rules governing who can run.

Pressure has been building between democratic forces in the financial hub, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, and China's stability-obsessed Communist Party leaders who fear a rival democrat being voted into office.

  • Protesters carry an effigy of a wolf representing Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying march during a demonstration in Hong Kong, Jan. 1, 2014.
  • Thousands of protesters were in the streets, some of whom were holding an effigy of a wolf representing Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong, Jan. 1, 2014.
  • Thousands of pro-democracy protesters march in the streets to demand universal suffrage and urge Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to step down, Hong Kong, Jan. 1, 2014.

Protesters at the annual New Year's Day democracy rally  shouted slogans demanding full democracy in 2017, with a key condition being the open nominations of candidates so that anyone, including China critics, can run for office.

But Chinese officials and leftist newspapers have rejected that, citing the city's mini-constitution that states all nominees must be endorsed by a 1,200-strong election committee, which is stacked with Beijing loyalists.

“There's more and more interference [from Beijing],” said Tsang Fan-yu, a designer who was at Wednesday's protest with his seven-year-old son for their sixth consecutive year.

“We have to come out to make our voices heard. The form of democracy Beijing wants is unacceptable. It's fake.”

A cluster of banners read “Real Universal Suffrage. No pre-screened election”, while protesters also called on the city's embattled and pro-Beijing leader, Leung Chun-ying, to step down after a series of scandals.

“We want to see Hong Kong people have a genuine choice in electing their leaders,” said Anson Chan, a respected former head of the civil service, who was at the rally.

Discord over the city's democratic future could culminate in a protest this summer called “Occupy Central”, seeking to shut down the central business district of one of Asia's most important financial centers.

“No direct election? See you in Central!” read one of the banners.

A New Year civil referendum was also launched to gage the public's preferences for the 2017 poll, with some 50,000 Hong Kong residents having voted by late afternoon.

“Hong Kong's political future has now come to a critical moment,” said Johnson Yeung, one of the rally organizers. “The 2014 New Year's Day rally will become the first field of battle between the public and the government.”

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More