Occupy Central conveners Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-ming will join other members of the pro-democracy movement tonight to launch a series of peaceful civil disobedience actions across the city. The ‘last resort’ action comes as the National People’s Congress in Beijing stated that Hong Kongers will not be allowed to pick their own candidates for the city’s 2017 election.
Instead, the number of candidates able to stand will be capped at two or three and each will require the support of half of a 1,200 strong nominating committee. The majority of the committee will likely be made up of pro-Beijing figures, effectively barring candidates who are not ‘patriots’ who “love China”.
The statement said that “the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security,and development interests of the country are at stake.”
Occupy Central organisers risk arrest as they are set to announce plans for ‘wave-after-wave’ of occupation protests.
Police have indicated that they may charge the movement’s leaders for conspiring to organise an unauthorised assembly. Participants are also liable to be arrested, though 30 lawyers have offered to work pro-bono on behalf of anyone detained.
This evening’s event will be streamed, live, here.
10,000 people are expected to take part in a peaceful ‘sit-in’ in Central, though smaller-scale demonstrations are expected in the run-up.
The Alliance for True Democracy, Civic Human Rights Front, the Democratic Party, Hong Kong Federation of Students, and Scholarism will also also be reacting to the decision from Beijing from 7pm this evening at government headquarters in Admiralty.
2000 barricades and 5000 police officers have been put on standby around Central and LegCo.
A newly installed wall structure – surrounding government headquarters – also remains in place…
Pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai will also attend this evening. A raid on his home by anti-corruption officers earlier this week made international headlines, as the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) looked into complaints over donations to local politicians. It is not illegal to make donations to legislators and the ICAC has been forced to insist that they were acting impartially.
On Friday, Human Rights Watch issued a strong statement urging China to “stop interfering in Hong Kong protests”. Sophie Richardson, China director, said that “Beijing is trying to present as ‘democratic’ a process over which it will retain complete control… It shouldn’t be surprised if this prompts real outrage in Hong Kong, and it shouldn’t compound that mistake by preventing people from expressing their views peacefully.”
Despite a coordinated government smear campaign against the movement, Fan Cheuk-wan, managing director for Asia Pacific at Credit Suisse, told the SCMP earlier this year that she did not believe the Occupy Central movement would have a huge impact on the financial system. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has stated, separately, that it expects any acts of civil disobedience to have a minimal impact on trade.
Key commentary and quotes from the week:
“Beijing would not sit there and ignore such a situation” – Chen Zou’er, former deputy director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, speaks of ‘bloodshed’ in an interview with RTHK, suggesting the Chinese army could be mobilised.
In its attempts to assert control, Beijing has polarized the city, and it looks permanent. If they’re going to use law enforcement agencies for political persecution stunts, what’s the point of being moderate and constructive? – Hemlock, Big Lychee blog.
“Beijing’s steady erosion of the independent institutions left behind by the British will only increase the desire of Hong Kong’s people for greater democracy and autonomy.” – Wall Street Journal
“Threats and intimidation will serve little to dampen Hong Kong people’s desire for genuine democracy, but they will tarnish Hong Kong authorities’ reputation for respecting the right of peaceful expression… The promise of the Basic Law was to expand democracy, not limit it, and it is time that Beijing fulfils it without delay.” – Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch.
“China is the global champion of fakery in consumer products. Now the idea of democracy can be added to its list of creative fakes” – Asia Sentinel.
“…the [NPC] decision will provoke street protests, drive moderates into the more radical pro-democracy camp and call into question the former British colony’s standing as a global financial centre and bastion of free enterprise. And for what? The good of Hong Kong, of course.” – Nisid Hajari, Bloomberg
“Not only are [foreign elements] undermining Hong Kong’s stability and development, but they’re also attempting to turn Hong Kong into a bridgehead for subverting and infiltrating the Chinese mainland” – statement in the state-run People’s Daily, despite there being no evidence of foreign interference.