On Sunday 4 December 2005, tens of thousands of protestors marched through the streets of Hong Kong demanding universal suffrage. While observers were quick to notice that the numbers were significantly fewer than the 1 July 2003 protest, the demonstration will prompt some soul-searching among political elites: from Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang’s office through to the national people’s congress (NPC) in Beijing.
Critics of this demonstration were unable to undermine the protest by ascribing it to discontent with a poorly performing economy or the unpopularity of the former chief executive Tung Chee-hua, as they had with the much larger demonstrations of 2003 and 2004. This time, the principled, pro-democracy character of the march was clear. As a result, the government have been obliged to take it very seriously and, unusually, China’s prime minister Wen Jiabao made a public statement.