MOSCOW, September 29 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova - As Occupy Central protesters continue to escalate tensions in Hong Kong, their latest rally has sparked unrest and disturbance on Sunday, September 28, when thousands took to the streets and clashed with police.
"Occupy Central With Peace and Love, as the protest is officially known, aims to foment democratic change by paralyzing the heart of this freewheeling financial hub. It was originally slated to begin Wednesday, but an aligned student demonstration Friday gathered such momentum that its leaders brought the launch forward," Time Magazine reports.
The protesters demand reforms, which would let them to form their local government independently from Beijing. Currently all candidates "must first be vetted by a committee perceived as curated by the Chinese Community Party," Time explains.
However, this does not mean the citizens of the region cannot exercise their democratic rights. "The majority of Hong Kong citizens, namely, the 5 million qualified voters of the selection of chief executive in 2017, will be able to cast their votes to select the chief executive," said Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, as cited by the CNN.
Still, Occupy Central denounces the procedure as non-democratic. The CNN quotes the campaign's statement as saying: "Genuine universal suffrage includes both the rights to elect and to be elected. The decision of the NPC Standing Committee has deprived people with different political views of the right to run for election and be elected by imposing unreasonable restrictions, thereby perpetuating 'handpicked politics.'"
According to the agreement signed by China and the United Kingdom in 1997, when the former British colony was returned to Beijing's rule, Hong Kong preserved a "high degree of autonomy," including the right to elect its local authorities.
"Horses will keep racing, and nightclub goers will continue dancing," stated then-leader Deng Xiaoping, as cited by the Global Times. The metaphor meant that Hong Kong's would retain its capitalist economic structure, while being a part of Communist China. Thus, Deng Xiaoping proclaimed his famous "one country, two systems" constitutional principal.
According to Chinese government, the procedure of Hong Kong's Chief Executive election, which includes Beijing's approval of a candidate, has been set in accordance with Deng Xiaoping's principle and does not contradict the Sino-British agreement of 1997.
Furthermore, Beijing is inclined to consider the Occupy Central campaign as a "conspiracy of anti-China's forces" inside and outside the country. "Occupy Central … is illegal and violates Hong Kong's rule of law. This has demonstrated that a portion of the anti-China forces inside and outside Hong Kong are conspiring to usurp the jurisdiction of the city, which should never be allowed," warned Zhou Nan, a former director of Xinhua's Hong Kong branch, as cited by South China Morning Post.
Meanwhile, CNN praises the protest campaign launched by Hong Kong civilians, despite the violence and disturbance it has caused. The media outlet draws the historic parallels between the student rallies on Friday and Saturday, which preceded the Occupy Central march, and the student protests at Tiananmen, 25 years ago. The media outlet cites Joshua Wong, 17, a leader of "pro-democracy" student group as saying: "People should not be afraid of their government, the government should be afraid of their people," – the statement inspired by "V for Vendetta," a Hollywood blockbuster.
However, such "Hollywood adventurism" is unacceptable in Hong Kong, economists claim. While organizers insist that Occupy Central is a well-organized and peaceful movement, the skeptics point out the crowd is out of control, the BBC notes. Predictably, the unstable situation has triggered business owners' concerns.
"[Occupy Central] has already done a lot of damage to our image overseas and in the mainland because this has projected an image of uncertainty and turbulence. Some foreign businessmen and chambers have told me that some investors are rethinking their investment in Hong Kong because of the perception of uncertainty and turbulence," says Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a Hong Kong legislator, as cited by the Global Times.
Tung Yiu-chung, a chairman of Tourism Industry Council Hong Kong, bemoans the fact that Occupy Central threatens Hong Kong's tourism industry – one of the region's major source of income.
However, state-run China's media outlets insist that the radical protest is doomed. Although the tactic of the "illicit" Occupy Central campaign is to trigger a "bigger event" in the country, there are no preconditions for any kind of "color revolution" in Hong Kong, the Global Times notes. Beijing is confident that Hong Kong government will observe the situation and keep the protest movement "under control in accordance with the law."
In a response to Western media sources' speculations regarding the Tiananmen Incident, the Global Times emphasizes, that "hyping such a groundless comparison, they [Western media sources] attempt to mislead and stir up Hong Kong society." "China is no longer the same nation it was 25 years ago. We have accumulated experience and drawn lessons from others, which help strengthen our judgment when faced with social disorder," the media outlet underscores.