Demonstrators are set to paralyse Hong Kong’s financial district after Beijing refused to allow unfettered nominations for the territory’s top job
On democracy, there will be no compromise. That’s the message Beijing sent the city of Hong Kong on Sunday. After months of rallies calling for free and fair elections, China’s legislature effectively shut the door on full democracy, ruling out open nominations for the planned 2017 election of the city’s chief executive (CE), the local government’s top leader. Since Hong Kong returned to China in 1997, the CE has been chosen by an electoral commission dominated by establishment figures. In 2017, the CE will be elected by Hong Kong voters. But the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing has now confirmed that it will retain its gatekeeper role, making sure candidates are first vetted by a committee to gauge whether they demonstrate, among others things, sufficient “love for country.”
The announcement sets the stage for renewed conflict over the freewheeling metropolis of 7 million. On Sunday evening, local time, elements of the city’s pro-democracy camp, along with several thousands citizens, gathered at government offices to protest. On an open-air stage framed by the People’s Liberation Army’s Hong Kong headquarters and lighted by the city’s skyscrapers, several thousand democracy campaigners denounced the CCP and vowed to push ahead with plans to shut down the city’s financial district. The group behind the push for civil disobedience, Occupy Central with Love and Peace, did not say when the action would start.