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Hong Kong Students Boycott Classes to Protest Beijing Policies

Thousands of Hong Kong students have begun a week-long boycott of classes to protest Beijing's decision to rule out fully democratic elections in the former British colony.

College and university students from all over the territory streamed onto the campus Monday of the Chinese University of Hong Kong to kick off the boycott with a massive rally.

Strike organizers are angered at Beijing's decision in August to rule out open nominations for candidates seeking to become Hong Kong's chief executive. Instead, China has said potential candidates first must be vetted and approved by the majority of a committee stacked with pro-Beijing members.

Analysts say they expect the boycott to have little or no impact on Beijing's ruling.

Pro-democracy supporters have threatened to block passage of Beijing's proposal in the territory's legislature.

Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the university's Center for Chinese Studies, told VOA he thinks Hong Kong's government is composed of what he calls pro-Beijing 'yes men' and the Chinese Communist Party has reneged on past pledges made to ensure the territory's democratic traditions.

"Xi Jinping has put the emphasis on the so-called state security," he said. "That means ensuring that Hong Kong will not become a base of subversion against Beijing ... so people now are generally very pessimistic about the future viability of the one-country, two-systems model."

Willy Lam said he expects this atmosphere of pessimism to continue for the foreseeable future. In a recent survey, more than half [53.7 percent] of those surveyed said they do not trust either the Hong Kong or Beijing governments.