No Concessions on Hong Kong Electoral Reforms
Nearly a month after clearing the last of the pro-democracy protesters who had gathered in Hong Kong for almost three months, the Hong Kong government has presented a report on the protests to Beijing. Isabella Steger reports for the Wall Street Journal:
The government on Tuesday released a 155-page report (PDF) titled “Report on the Recent Community and Political Situation in Hong Kong.” Government officials pledged to submit the report as minor peace offering during televised talks with five representatives of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, a student group, in October, after the protesters expressed disappointment with a previous report. The report has been submitted to the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of China’s State Council, or cabinet.
Pro-democracy figures were critical of the report. Lester Shum, deputy secretary-general of HKFS, compared it to a collection of magazine and news clippings made by a school student and said it didn’t directly address the political impasse in Hong Kong. [Source]
In the report, the government indicated that it does not plan to change the electoral reform plan outlined by Beijing in September, which was the primary demand of the protesters. Alan Wong at the New York Times reports:
Mr. Leung, the chief executive, said there would be a new round of public consultations on the election plans but any suggestions had to follow the Basic Law, the framework that established Hong Kong’s status as a special region under Chinese sovereignty. China has said the Basic Law rules out the protesters’ demand that members of the public have a more direct say in nominating future candidates for Mr. Leung’s job. The chief executive is now chosen by an elite committee loyal to Beijing.
“Nothing can coerce the central and special administrative region government,” Mr. Leung said on Tuesday, according to his website. “Because Hong Kong is, I repeat once more, a society of rule of law.”
Opponents of the government, however, promptly accused Mr. Leung and the Chinese government of ignoring the protesters’ legitimate demands.
Hong Kong 2020, a political group led by the city’s former No. 2 official, Anson Chan, said in a statement that the report “fails totally to convey the deep sense of disappointment and betrayal felt by Hong Kong people” over the terms Beijing imposed on elections. [Source]
Meanwhile, as the report was released, the Hong Kong government also announced it would move forward with the arrest of dozens of people involved with the protests. From Clifford Lo and Jeffie Lam at the South China Morning Post:
The Civic Party’s Alan Leong Kah-kit, Labour Party’s Lee Cheuk-yan and League of Social Democrats’ Leung Kwok-hung were among those requested to visit police headquarters in Wan Chai, according to a police source. Once there, the source said, they would be arrested for instigating, organising or aiding and abetting an unlawful assembly over the 79-day protests.
Also listed were Occupy’s organising trio – the Reverend Chu Yiu-ming and academics Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Dr Chan Kin-man – who turned themselves in last month.
“They are asked to go to the police headquarters to assist in a probe in connection with a case of unlawful assembly,” the source said, adding they would be arrested and then granted bail.
“If they fail to come, we will visit them and make arrests.” [Source]
Eason Chung recently had trouble boarding a flight from Taipei to Hong Kong, and is now concerned that the government has put him and other protest leaders on a travel blacklist. From Isabella Steger at WSJ:
Mr. Chung said he was initially prevented from boarding after a gate agent scanned his boarding pass at the gate. According to Mr. Chung, he overheard the word “blacklist” when airport staff discussed the problem.
He was allowed to board some 15 minutes later. When he asked an airline employee about the “blacklist,” he was told that the information on the system pertaining to Mr. Chung came from the Hong Kong government.
The incident underscores worries among people who took part in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests that their freedom to travel could be restricted as a result. It also comes after dozens of people who took part in the protests were barred from entering mainland China and Macau in recent months. [Source]