Pro-government protesters hit back with huge Hong Kongrally
Tens of thousands rally in Hong Kong
Tens of thousands of peoplemarched through Hong Kong on Sunday, August 17 in support of China and to protestOccupy Central, a pro-democracy movement that says it will plan to stage acivil disobedience sit-in unless the Chinese government allows the Hong Kongpublic to nominate and vote for its next leader.
A group of pro-Chinaprotesters marches in downtown Hong Kong on August 17.
Tens of thousands ofdemonstrators marched during a pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong on Tuesday,July 1, to express frustration over the influence of Beijing on the city. Morethan 500 people were arrested during a sit-in after the march.
Demonstrators staged a sit-inon Chater Road in Central district after the march.、
Policemen began clearing outprotesters from the sit-in after midnight.
Demonstrators lingered inCentral district the night after the march.
Protesters hold props as theymarched on a street during the annual pro-democracy protest
Organizers said 510,000demonstrators marched, while police counted 98,000 people.
During the march, JoshuaWong, 17, the founder of pro-democracy student group Scholarism, announced hewould stage an illegal sit-in on the night of July 1. "I may get arrestedtonight. Will you all support me?" he yelled to the crowd.
A river of protesters,wearing white T-shirts to show their support for democracy, flowed through HongKong's Causeway Bay. Police counted more than 98,000 participants.
Demonstrators walked throughdowntown Hong Kong.
Rain poured down uponprotesters intermittently throughout the day.
As rain begins to come downon the protesters, umbrellas fly open
Policemen stood guard infront of a store in the Central district of Hong Kong during the rally.
Tens of thousands of peoplegathered in Hong Kong's Victoria Park before the march begins.
HongKong (CNN) -- Just call it the anti-protestprotest.
Tens of thousands of people marchedthrough Hong Kong yesterday in support of China and to protest Occupy Central,a pro-democracy movement that says it will plan to stage a civil disobediencesit-in unless the Chinese government allows the Hong Kong public to nominateand vote for its next leader.
Robert Chow, the organizer ofSunday's march, said it represented Hong Kong's desire to work"peacefully" with the Chinese government in Beijing on politicalreform.
"We want universal suffrage,but not at any cost," he told CNN Monday.
The pro-government march followedthe same route as Hong Kong's massiveannual anti-government, pro-democracy rally on July 1, but the tenor wasmarkedly different: Sunday's marchers were arranged into organized groupswearing matching t-shirts, some emblazoned with names of mainland Chineseorganizations. Many waved Chinese flags.
Paid protester claim
Local media swirled with reports ofmarchers getting paid or bused in to attend the pro-government march. One video (Cantonese) purportedly showed cash being handed outto marchers. Other images appeared to show marchers getting paid and enjoyingfree food in a dim-sum restaurant.
Chow said he took the briberyaccusations "seriously" and would "investigate" butmaintained that no laws were broken.
There were also conflicting reportson the size of the march. Chow said his group counted a "quartermillion" marchers, but an estimate by University of Hong Kongstatisticians put the number much lower, between 79,000 and 88,000.
By contrast, July's pro-democracyrally drew between 154,000 and 172,000, according to the university.
Pictures taken by reportersappeared to show a noticeably thinner crowd on Sunday than the crowd in July,but Chow said the difference was because "we were marching very, veryfast."
Alan Wong @byAlanWong
Left: July 1 march. Right: Today's march. Bothat their apparent peaks. Note different composition, pace & density.
3:16 PM - 17 Aug 2014
Different visions of democracy
Benny Tai, the organizer of OccupyCentral, said Chow's rally offered "nothing substantial" in terms ofnew ideas.
"[Chow's supporters] talkabout universal suffrage, but they never explain what they mean by universalsuffrage."
Tai's group has proposed anelectoral reform package in which every citizen would be allowed to vote forthe city's next leader, with candidates freely nominated by the general public.
But Beijing says it will only allowcitizens to vote on candidates that are approved by a small, China-friendlycommittee.
Chow, who supports the government'splan, said Hong Kongers should take the deal rather than risk a volatileshowdown with China.
"We want universal suffrage,with peace. Iraq has universal suffrage -- has it got peace? No, we don't wantthat," he said.
"Benny Tai wants a specificway of election, or else. If we don't get it, then all hell breaks loose."
The current chief executive of HongKong, Leung Chun-ying, is favored by Beijing and has signed a petition insupport of Chow's movement.
Under the "one country, twosystems" policy, the seven million residents of Hong Kong -- defined as a"Special Administrative Region" of China -- are afforded greatercivil liberties than those in the mainland, under a leadership approved byBeijing.
This reflects an agreement reachedbetween China and the United Kingdom prior to the handover of the city in 1997,which promised Hong Kong a "high degree of autonomy" for 50 yearsafter its return. But there are increasing fears that those freedoms are beingeroded.
OPINION:Hong Kong's struggle for democracy matters
What is Beijing thinking?
The future of Hong Kong couldbecome clear soon.
On August 31, China's powerfulNational People's Congress Standing Committee is expected to announce adecision on Hong Kong's electoral reform.
If the decision seems to leave openthe possibility for Hong Kongers to nominate their own leaders, then Tai hassaid he'll work with the government to produce an election reform plan that "satisfiesinternational standards."
But if not, "there will be nomore negotiation and we will have to plan for Occupy Central."
The threat of civil disobedience"is our bargaining power," he explained. "They take usseriously, though they will never admit that."
Democracy in China?
Although at odds with one another,both Chow and Tai believe democracy in Hong Kong might one day lead todemocracy in China.
Tai said Hong Kong is a test casefor the mainland's political future.
"For political reform, that is,introducing true elections, Hong Kong could be the experimental ground for theCommunist Party. The Chinese government will closely observe how elections willbe conducted.
"If Hong Kong gets the chanceto have true universal suffrage, that may reflect that China has the intentionto introduce political reform or some kind of election in the future -- maybein five or ten years."
Chow said Chinese democracy mightlook "very different from the western style of democracy.
"Maybe it'll turn out to be abetter system."
Jonas 1 day ago
Still by far my favorite shopping destination.
NA 1 day ago
Looks like the bipartisans and right wing in the States. With all duerespect, there are varying cultures in different countries.
Nikki Y 21 hours ago
Westerners just love any anti China demonstrations. Western media is theworst, they just love to incite discordance.
desadiste 15 hours ago
Listen to all these clowns hired by the pathetic Chinese government topeddle blsht propaganda.
Mindless SHEEP. China is a pathetic joke.
Bob 1 day ago
So these protesters wanna give up all their rights? Bunch of robots.
Shawn Duncan 1 day ago
If they love communism so much they should move to Beijing. Or move toNorth Korea.
ammyD 1 day ago
Hilarious... So many wumao here who prob can't even get a visa to HongKong! Lol
NeilRyanGabriel 1 day ago
HAHAH... FAKE PROTEST... by the corrupt Chinese communist party!!!
David 1 day ago
Those prodemocracy activists are bunch of idiots. For years HK worship awhite queen from English and it is ok. Dont you idiots even realize the queenis a symbole of your humiliation?
Konstantin Rebrov 1 day ago
Chinese patriotic people are holding the flag of their country andexpressing their nationalism. What's wrong about that? We do it all the time inRussia and US. Actually in US it is much more extreme, with the stars andstripes everywhere in the month of July. What's all the fuss about seriously
Yi 1 day ago
hongkong will be more prosperous and stable in china's arm and f...k theso-called pro-democracy activists.
GLORIAKARMA 18 hours ago
You see, how China bullying even its territory, they used thousand ofmainland Chinese to coerce, threatened the Hongkong people. HONGKONG will neverthe same again. Democracy is dead.
Lightning rod 1 day ago
Western media will never hesitate to endorse civil disobedience and eventerrorism as long as it is anti-Chinese. Western media can't wait to see Chinain total chaos. All over the world, they are known as terrorists. But in China,they are known as 'separatists', knowing very well these 'separatists' are thesame people fighting in Iraq and Syria.
Western media will never fail to deride and belittle any pro-Chinese rally.
fernando 1 day ago
it's a turbulent future for HK under Chinese PLA rule
Jun 18 hours ago
A Civil War is brewing, We can tell which faction Taiwan will support.