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Occupy Central And Pro-Democracy Protests Shut Down Hong Kong

Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong against creeping influence from Beijing were met with a severe police response as students and other activists were teargassed. The crackdown appears to have backfired with more people now in the streets shutting down roads and businesses in down town Hong Kong. Student groups called for a boycott of classes and some unions called for work strikes.

The use of umbrellas to protect protesters from teargas has led some to call this the “umbrella movement.”

The protests have taken place in front of the government headquarters in Hong Kong in opposition to the government yielding to Beijing on the Chinese Communist Party rather than residents choosing city leaders. The protesters want to maintain Hong Kong’s autonomy and have democratic elections to chose who leads the city.

Other protests known as “Occupy Central” occurred in Hong Kong’s financial district known as “Central” where sit ins have arrested transportation and closed banks. Occupy Central protesters were also tear gassed and confronted by riot police.

The escalation of the protests, and the unusually strong response by the police, pointed to the possibility of a long confrontation between a city government pressured by the Chinese Communist Party’s demands for top-down control and residents’ demands for a city leadership chosen by democratic means.

The protest at the government offices was started by students demanding such electoral changes. Beijing last month proposed that the public would be able to vote for the city’s chief executive, beginning in 2017. But a committee dominated by people loyal to the Chinese government would be able to screen out candidates who did not have Beijing’s backing.

The protests in Hong Kong will be one of the first serious tests for Chinese President Xi Jinping. While holding the line against opponents to the Communist Party is a priority Hong Kong has always been a special case both due to its history and considerable wealth. Nonetheless President Jinping seems determined to bring Hong Kong under Beijing’s control.

Now the future of Hong Kong will be decided in the streets.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.