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The World

Democratic Wave in Hong Kong

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More than half a million Hong Kong residents cast their ballots over an unofficial referendum on democratic reforms. By late afternoon on Sunday, about 636,000 ballots had been cast since voting started on Friday including about 400,000 through a smartphone application. Nearly 200,000 were cast online despite a massive cyber-attack that left the site intermittently inaccessible and forced the organizers to extend voting by a week until June 29. About 26,500 voters cast their votes at 15 polling stations which organizers operated on two successive Sundays.

Unfortunately, there are mounting tensions over how much say Hong Kong residents will have in choosing their next leader who currently is hand-picked by a 1,200 member committee of pro-China elites. Despite pledging to allow the residents of Hong Kong to choose their own leader starting in 2017, Beijing has balked at letting members of the public nominate their own candidates. Currently, the selection is made by a China friendly committee.

Pro-democratic organizers of “Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement” are offering the voters of Hong Kong three proposals on a so-called public nomination. They have vowed to hold a mass protest if the colony’s government, which held consultations on electoral reform, doesn’t come up with a proposal that meets their demands. The plan includes rallying at least 10,000 people to shut down the city’s business.

Obviously, China is worried about a democratic upsurge in Hong Kong which may ultimately seek complete freedom from China which will adversely impact Beijing’s rising regional assertions and also its booming global economy. Hence China will never let Hong Kong residents decide their own political fate.

There is a concern that if the situation gets beyong Beijing’s control they will clamp down on pro-democracy organizers as they did when thousands of students gathered at Tiananmen Square to demand greater freedoms. This is why Hong Kong residents are not very optimistic about their endeavour for democracy.

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