Drawing the News: Hong Kong Referendum
With many Hong Kongers already worried they may not enjoy universal suffrage in the the 2017 election of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, on June 10 the State Council Information Office released a white paper reasserting Beijing’s “complete jurisdiction” over the semi-autonomous territory. The policy document met much criticism in Hong Kong, and came as Occupy Central activists were preparing an unofficial referendum on electoral reform. Nearly 800,000 people participated in the ten-day poll, and Beijing was not amused. Occupy’s online voting platform suffered what the New York Times called “one of the most severe cyberattacks of its kind,” and mainland censors ordered all coverage and discussion of the referendum to be deleted. These heightened tensions set the stage for Hong Kong’s annual July 1 rally marking the territory’s handover to the mainland. While the poll exceeded Occupy’s estimates by almost eight-fold, the march fell far short of organizers’ projections, and the total number of participants remains contested.