For those of you, who just saw the Hong Kong police throwing tear gas at students, a quick summary what happened over the last months and years.
Hong Kong was given back to Mainland China in 1997 under the “one country two systems” agreement. That means despite Hong Kong being part of China, it still enjoys a high degree of autonomy such as it’s own legal system, own currency, immigration rules (Mainland Chinese need a visa to enter Hong Kong) and more.
Part of the agreement was that the people of Hong Kong will eventually be allowed to vote for the guy in charge here. They call it “Chief Executive” but it’s actually just more like a mayor of a big city or Governor of a State. This vote should be democratic, i.e. one person one vote.
So far, the Chief Executive was “elected” by a committee of 1,200 or so guys taken from various constituencies. The whole system is messed up completely, thereby guaranteeing that only a person who is supported by Beijing gets the job.
Anyone with just a rough understanding how a one party state such as China thinks and acts shouldn’t be surprised that the thought of having a democracy is anathema to the rulers in Beijing.
So how does one reconcile having a democracy but still being fully in charge of who the guy will be?
A few weeks ago Beijing granted that Hong Kong’s population can indeed vote for their Chief Executive in 2017. But there’s a catch. Beijing decides who can be elected.
To be fair, there has been no information of how Beijing will decide who can run for the top post. Still, granting elections to the population but limiting the choices defies the term “democracy”.
The result was predictable. With a history of street protests, Hong Kong’s population took to the streets. Hong Kong students started boycotting classes. Then Occupy Central, an initiative that planned to occupy the financial district, changed their plans. Instead of starting the occupation on October 1 (China’s National Holiday), they saw the thousands of students on the street and decided to get started immediately.
Central was pretty much locked down yesterday with Police and protestors clashing. And then someone up in the high ranks of the Hong Kong government gave the stupid order to clear the streets. Why you should clear the streets on a Sunday evening, I don’t know. Anyone who has dealt with situations like this knows that this is similar to putting oil to the fire.
Now we’re at day two and I hope China’s army will stay inside their barracks….
If you want to keep yourself informed about what’s happening in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post keeps updated information on its website. If you can read Chinese, read “Apple Daily”.