Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong staged huge rallies on Wednesday to coincide with China’s National Day celebrations. Reports said Hong Kong Chief Executive C Y Leung was booed and heckled while delivering the National Day speech where he urged the protesters to withdraw from the agitation.
Thousands of Hong Kong citizens poured out on the streets on Wednesday as it was a holiday on account of China’s 65th founding day.
Speaking at the National Day reception, Leung, was quoted by the Chinese state media as saying that the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress has adopted a decision on issues relating to the selection of the Chief Executive (CE) by universal suffrage, confirming that the CE can be elected through “one person, one vote” from 2017 onward.
“It is understandable that different people may have different ideas about a desirable reform package. But it is definitely better to have universal suffrage than not. It is definitely better to have the CE elected by five million eligible voters than by 1,200 people,” he said.
The protesters of course are not on the same page with Leung; they want full democracy and an election in 2017 which will not be controlled by Beijing. “Hong Kong and the Mainland are closely linked in their development. We must work hand in hand to make the Chinese dream come true,” Leung said, quoting a passage from the Conclusion of the White Paper, which says: “Continuously enriching and developing the practice of 'one country, two systems' in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and maintaining long-term prosperity and stability in the region are an integral part of the Chinese dream.”
Clearly, however, Leung’s rhetoric did not work on the people. Protests continue and hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens continued to be on the streets. Meanwhile, a rights group said Wednesday that dozens of activists supporting the movement in Hong Kong have been arrested on the Mainland. “A number of Chinese citizens have faced reprisals for supporting the protests for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
The occupation of several areas in Hong Kong, including parts of its financial and political center, has inspired many Chinese on the mainland and encouraged them to speak up for democracy, with many photos appearing on social media of activists holding signs in support of Hong Kong and demanding constitutional democracy for the territory.
Police in China have harassed and warned activists in many cities, concerned that they may try to travel to Hong Kong or take to streets to protest,” the group Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in a statement on Wednesday. In a related development that’s likely to anger Beijing, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has come out in support of the movement as well.
If Hong Kong can soon achieve universal suffrage, it would be a win-win for Hong Kong and the mainland, and it can greatly help narrow the mental gap between residents on both sides of (the Taiwan Strait) and allow for the relations to develop positively," Ma said in a statement.
"Otherwise, it may deepen the antipathy of Taiwan's public and hurt the future of the two-side relations," Ma said in the statement, dated Tuesday.