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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hong Kong’s Leader Calls for Protests to End ‘Immediately’ - NYTimes.com


In his first remarks on the protests since the Hong Kong police used tear gas against demonstrators on Sunday, Leung Chun-ying, the autonomous Chinese territory’s chief executive, called on one of the two main groups organizing the protests, Occupy Central With Love and Peace, to end the demonstrations. “Occupy Central founders had said repeatedly that if the movement is getting out of control, they would call for it to stop,” Mr. Leung said. “I’m now asking them to fulfill the promise they made to society and stop this campaign immediately.” Continue reading the main story RELATED COVERAGE President Xi Jinping of China, photographed in June, is seeking a solution to the problem in Hong Kong that does not give rise to new unrest on the mainland.News Analysis: For China, Limited Tools to Quell Unrest in Hong KongSEPT. 29, 2014 Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators gathered in Hong Kong on Monday to continue calls for free and open elections for the city's chief executive in 2017.Protests in Hong Kong Have Roots in China’s ‘Two Systems’SEPT. 29, 2014 Hong Kong Protesters Defy Officials’ Call to DisperseSEPT. 29, 2014 Demonstrators checked their cellphones on Nathan Road, a major route through Kowloon, on Monday.Sinosphere Blog: To Beat China Censorship, Hong Kong Protesters Flock to Off-Grid Messaging AppSEPT. 29, 2014 A student displayed a sign reading Sinosphere Blog: From Around the World, Support for Hong Kong ProtestersSEPT. 29, 2014 The protests started last Friday when university and high school students took to the streets, and they expanded considerably when Occupy Central announced early Sunday that it was joining the demonstrations, instead of waiting until Wednesday or later as it had signaled it would. Continue reading the main storySlide Show SLIDE SHOW|6 Photos Hong Kong Moves to Defuse Protests Hong Kong Moves to Defuse ProtestsCreditCarlos Barria/Reuters Occupy Central leaders hinted on Monday that they might consider a temporary lull in the protests. But there has been no such hint of conciliation from the student leaders, who have taken a considerably harder line in demanding that Beijing and the Hong Kong government scrap a decision by China limiting the scope of who can run in the 2017 elections to choose the next chief executive. “Occupy Central and its impact isn’t a matter of days,” Mr. Leung said. “It will last for a relatively long time. As a result, its impact on people’s lives and their personal safety in emergencies, as well as Hong Kong’s economic development and the cost to Hong Kong’s international image, will grow bigger and bigger. I hope everyone can consider these issues.” Mr. Leung noted that the protesters had organized roadblocks, distribution points for supplies and even first-aid stations. But while giving organizers credit for thinking about the medical needs of protesters, Mr. Leung complained that the protesters were delaying ambulances, fire engines and other emergency vehicles that needed to reach other residents. Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyX CLOSE Continue reading the main story RELATED IN OPINION A defiant protester waving placards that read Op-Ed Contributor: Hong Kong People!SEPT. 29, 2014 “There are many emergency services that are affected, there are wounded patients who cannot receive timely care,” he said, adding that fire stations had also been blocked. Later Tuesday, a deputy chief with the fire department, Leung Wai-hung, said at a news conference that the city’s ambulances normally reached more than 90 percent of emergency callers within certain time targets, but that this had fallen to between 60 and 70 percent in the downtown area during the first two days of the protests. “A one-minute delay will be the difference between a small fire and a big fire, and for those who need medical attention, a one-minute delay can be the difference between life and death,” he said. There was little sign on Tuesday that the protesters would back down quickly, even if there were protest leaders willing or able to send them home. Although the demonstrators’ numbers, which had surged overnight, appeared somewhat reduced in the morning, by afternoon the crowds at the main protest sites appeared to be swelling again. Continue reading the main story The police, whose use of tear gas Sunday seemed only to motivate more people to join the protests, gave no indication that they were preparing to disperse the demonstrators. At the same news conference where the fire official spoke, Hui Chun-tak, the chief spokesman for the police, acknowledged that “the majority of protesters have expressed their views in a legal way” and praised organizers for being willing to discuss opening some lanes of the blocked roads in the city center for use by emergency vehicles. Asked whether the police had enough personnel to clear the streets if ordered to do so, Mr. Hui responded, “I assure you, the police have enough manpower to deal with every single incident.” Hong Kong officials have consistently said that they do not need to seek Beijing’s help to deal with the protesters — a harrowing possibility for Hong Kong, where China’s brutal suppression of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in 1989 is vividly remembered. China’s plan for the 2017 election would let the public vote for chief executive, but the candidates would be vetted by a committee friendly to Beijing - a requirement that is unacceptable to the protesters. On Tuesday, an essay by an influential Chinese Communist Party ideologue, Li Shenming, underscored the party’s deep aversion to political liberalization of the kind sought by Hong Kong’s democracy advocates. Continue reading the main story What Prompted the Hong Kong Protests? Unrest in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory and global financial hub, could lead to a long confrontation between the government and demonstrators. Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, when China resumed sovereignty, has operated under a policy of “one country, two systems.” The city maintains an independent judiciary, and residents enjoy greater civil liberties than residents of mainland China. Hong Kong has a robust tradition of free speech. Democratic groups say Beijing has chipped away at those freedoms, citing an election law proposed last month that would limit voting reforms. China had promised free elections for Hong Kong's chief executive in 2017. But the government rejected a call for open nominations of candidates, instead proposing that candidates would continue to be chosen by a committee dominated by Beijing. The current city leader, Leung Chun-ying, has clashed with the pro-democracy opposition. After the crackdown on protesters Sunday, some called for his resignation. The essay in the party’s main newspaper, People’s Daily, defended China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, which is controlled by the party. Mr. Li wrote that to have a legislative body with multiple parties would invite chaos. “In current-day China, competitive elections with ‘one man, one vote’ would be sure to quickly lead to a state of turmoil, chaos, even civil war,” he wrote. Mr. Leung has refused to discuss democratic changes with student leaders, even as the government has struggled to draft a policy for dealing with student unrest. A 17-year-old student leader, Joshua Wong, was detained by the police for 40 hours without charges over the weekend before a judge ordered his release. Michael DeGolyer, a longtime political analyst at Hong Kong Baptist University, said that the university professors and politicians who proposed Occupy Central a year and a half ago as a civil disobedience campaign appear to have less influence with many of the demonstrators than the student leaders do. Polls conducted by academic institutions over the past year have indicated that the most disaffected and potentially volatile sector of Hong Kong society is not the students, nor the middle-aged or even elderly activists who have sustained the democracy movement here for decades. Instead, the most strident calls for greater democracy — and often for greater economic populism as well — have come from people in their 20s and early 30s who have struggled to find well-paying jobs as the local manufacturing sector has withered away, and as banks and other service industries have increasingly hired mainland Chinese instead of local college graduates. Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story Those young adults appear to be paying more attention to student leaders like Joshua Wong than to Occupy Central’s older generation of leaders, Mr. DeGolyer said. He added that “there’s a very large number of people who are very disaffected and alienated who are not students, who are not affiliated with any political party and who are angry.” Long lines formed at supermarkets Tuesday as shoppers stocked up on rice and other essentials — a sign that many residents are concerned about the possibility of a prolonged confrontation and perhaps violence. Wednesday is a public holiday marking the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Steve Vickers and Associates, a Hong Kong security company founded by a former top Hong Kong police officer, predicted on Tuesday that the crowds in the streets would swell for the next two days as many people used the holiday to come out and show their support. But some might then start returning to work on Thursday or Friday, the company said in a report. “If no major clashes occur, they are likely to peak over the next 48 hours,” the company said of the protests. The stock market in Hong Kong continued to fall on Tuesday, losing another 1.2 percent in morning trading after falling 1.9 percent on Monday. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said that 37 branches or offices of 21 banks were closed on Tuesday morning but that financial markets and the banking system were nonetheless functioning normally. Compounding the discomfort of protesters and the police alike on Tuesday was the heat. The Hong Kong government issued one of its occasional warnings of very hot weather to the public and to employers, cautioning against the risk of heatstroke for anyone spending a lot of time outdoors in the hot, humid, stagnant air. The forecast was for a high of 32 degrees Celsius, or 90 Fahrenheit, but with 95 percent humidity and practically no hint of a breeze. Chris Buckley contributed reporting.

Hong Kong’s Leader Calls for Protests to End ‘Immediately’ - NYTimes.com

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