Hong Kong Worries about China's Tightening Grip
The tightly-managed visit to Hong Kong by Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang sparked protests there over fears that Beijing is trying to squelch Hong Kong’s freedoms. From AP:
Sparking the outrage were the security arrangements put on for Vice Premier Li Keqiang, a rising star in the Chinese leadership. Hong Kong’s vigorous press complained they were kept far away from Li during the few events they were allowed to cover and had to compile their reports from government handouts. A few protesters who dared to get close say they were treated roughly by police officers.
While such tactics are standard procedure in mainland China, Chinese leaders are usually more careful not to alienate freewheeling Hong Kong. Li’s visit was intended to bolster his image — he’s expected to become premier in 2013 or sooner — and to show the government’s concern for Hong Kong. He announced measures to give Hong Kong companies better access to the mainland market and promote the territory as a trading center for Chinese yuan.
But the heavy-handed security has served to heighten concern in Hong Kong that its autonomy is being eroded by a mainland government that does not value the territory’s more freewheeling ways.
“I can understand why people feel unhappy or even angry with the way some of the situations were handled,” Jasper Tsang, a pro-Beijing legislator and president of the Legislative Council, said on a television talk show Sunday. “I would say this storm you refer to once again tells us that there’s still a difference between the values held by Hong Kong people and the conceptions, the beliefs of our central government.”