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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid