Thousands of protesters marched in Hong Kong on Wednesday calling for full democracy, and for the resignation of the mainland Chinese-controlled city’s leader. It is has only been a few weeks since lawmakers voted down the electoral reform package that was backed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders in Beijing.
There was a large number of police closely watching the crowds, as some protesters, also known as “localists,” asked for greater autonomy, or even independence from the mainland. Some protesters carried signs that read “Hong Kong nation,” while others waved Hong Kong’s old colonial flag that features the UK Union Jack.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Hong Kong Protests:
There were not as many people at this year’s protest. Last year, half a million people attended the annual July 1 march, which marks the anniversary of the city’s return to China in 1997.
“I want real universal suffrage,” the crowd chanted on what was a sweltering day. Many held yellow umbrellas, which were a symbol of the “Umbrella Movement” last year when protesters blocked major roads in an attempt to pressure Beijing to allow direct elections in 2017.
“The Umbrella Movement has not come to an end, because we have not got genuine universal suffrage,” said Eve Lam, a 53-year-old office assistant who was handing out paper umbrellas to passers-by.
It was during last year’s march when police arrested more than 500 people who were blocking a road in the financial district that became the prelude to the Occupy movement in late September.
“C.Y. Leung step down,” shouted student democracy leader Joshua Wong to the passing crowds, referring to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
‘Remake the future of our city. Build a democratic Hong Kong.’
It has been nearly two weeks since Hong Kong’s legislature vetoed an electoral reform proposal that was Beijing-backed. This triggered violent protests in the city, and presented Beijing with one of its most serious challenges in years. Hong Kong’s leader Leung has called for the city to move forward.
He said in a speech: “Even though political reforms have taken up considerable effort and time, the Hong Kong government will strengthen economic development and improve people’s livelihoods.”
Tens of thousands join pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong:
According to Reuters: “Hong Kong returned to China under a ‘one country, two systems’ formula that granted the city wide-ranging freedoms denied in Mainland China, and also held out the promise of universal suffrage. The electoral blueprint rejected by lawmakers last month would have allowed a direct vote for the city’s next chief executive in 2017, but only from among pre-screened, pro-Beijing candidates.”
China will probably never let go of its grasp of Hong Kong, and all its people can do is protest. Hopefully, in time, the CCP can let go and let the people live in a world with freedom of speech and without fear to use it.