C.Y. Leung Takes Tough Stance Ahead of Talks

Following a weekend of violent clashes between protesters and police in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, and ahead of planned talks with government representatives, some students are vowing to continue their sit-in. Donny Kwok and John Ruwitch report for Reuters:

The talks between student representatives and senior city government officials, scheduled for Tuesday evening, may yield small confidence-building measures and an agreement to continue the dialogue, but are unlikely to bridge the chasm between the two sides or end the demonstrations.

“I don’t expect much from tomorrow’s meeting, but I still hold some hope for the talks,” said protester Woody Wong, a 21-year-old student who camped overnight on Nathan Road, the main thoroughfare in the densely populated Mong Kok district.

“I will keep doing this until the government listens.”

[…] “So far we’ve seen no hope that they will reach some agreement in the coming week because both sides have different expectations of the dialogue,” said James Sung, a political analyst at City University of Hong Kong. [Source]

Chief Executive C.Y. Leung has further flamed protesters’ anger by claiming that the protests are being orchestrated by “foreign forces,” an assertion frequently put forward by China’s state media since the protests began. From Frederik Balfour, Chong Pooi Koon and Alex Davis of Bloomberg News:

“There is obviously participation by people, organizations from outside of Hong Kong,” Chief Executive said in an interview Sunday on Asia Television Ltd. “And this is not the only time they do it. And this is not an exception, either.”

This marks the first time Leung has invoked rhetoric common in China’s state-owned media that foreigners are to blame for interfering in Hong Kong’s domestic affairs.

“My concern is it excuses the government from resolving the problems by blaming it on the outside,” David Zweig, a political science professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology said in an interview. “The foreign intervention issue is that it allows China to say there are no domestic issues and then they don’t have to pay attention to social problems, some of which are caused by the political structure.”

Student leader Joshua Wong responded to Leung’s remarks in a humorous posting on his Twitter account, debunking the notion that foreign forces were running the show.

“The only overseas relationship I have, is my Korean cell phone, my U.S. computer and my Japanese gundam. Of course, all of them are made in China,” he wrote in Cantonese. [Source]

Other protesters also denied Leung’s claims.

Leung further stoked controversy by claiming that universal suffrage, one of the key demands of protesters, would result in giving poor Hong Kong residents a dominant role in choosing his successor. Keith Bradsher and Chris Buckley report for the New York Times:

Mr. Leung gave the warning in a broad-ranging defense of his government’s handling of pro-democracy protests that have wracked the city for more than three weeks. He acknowledged that many protesters were angered by the city’s lack of social mobility and affordable housing but argued that containing populist pressures was an important reason for resisting protesters’ demands.

Instead, he offered a firm defense of Beijing’s position that candidates to succeed him must be screened by a “broadly representative” nominating committee, which would insulate Hong Kong’s next chief executive from popular pressure to create a welfare state and allow the government to implement more business-friendly policies to address economic inequality.

Mr. Leung’s blunt remarks — which seemed to reflect a commonly held view among the Hong Kong elite that the general public cannot be trusted to govern the city well — appeared likely to draw fresh criticism from the democratic opposition and to inflame the street struggle over Hong Kong’s political future, which has been has been fueled in part by economic discontent, especially among younger residents. [Source]