What's with Occupy Central In Hong Kong?
There have been protests going on in Hong Kong in the past week. Participants in what is known Occupy Central have been demonstrating in the busiest districts of Hong Kong, including Central and Causeway, effectively bringing the traffic through the areas to halt and seriously disrupting the business in the city as a whole.
Media in the West has quickly characterized the demonstration as "pro-democracy" and even nicknamed it the "Umbrella Revolution." Evidently, the Power That Be in the West, having benefited so tremendously from the various “revolutions” it helped make in recent years – in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine – is hoping for another victory of a similar kind.
Will Hong Kong go the way the Western powers have mapped for it? Rather unlikely. Those countries that have succumbed to the well-orchestrated “revolutions” of late are those that have some very critical problems; they were struggling, desperate. Hong Kong, in contrast, remains a prosperous city with a thriving economy. Residents there, discontented in many ways as they are, do not want to see their city to fall into great chaos, ruining what they have built up so industriously over the years.
Even politically, Hong Kong has been making good progress. The current demonstrations have taken place over a popular election scheduled for 2017, which is to select a chief executive for the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, as the city is officially known now. The election, as it is set up currently, will be on the basis of universal suffrage, that is, “one man, one vote.” Such an election would be a first for Hong Kong, a historic breakthrough. During the 150-odd years in which Britain ruled over the place as a colonial power, no such elections ever took place – the Governor of Hong Kong was always appointed by the British government.
So progress is being made, but advocates of Occupy Central dispute the nomination process for the scheduled election. By the current rules, for someone to be a viable candidate, he or she must have more than half support in an election commission consisted of 1,200 members. The election commission is produced through elections held in different sectors of the Hong Kong society, such as agriculture, industry and trade, professional associations, as well as religious and cultural organizations. In other words, whereas the election itself will be direct, nomination is indirect.
Is this setup, which combines indirect nomination and direct election, good enough? The National Congress of China, which has the authority to set rules for the upcoming election in Hong Kong, believes it is. Participants of Occupy Central disagree and they’re trying to put the life in Hong Hong on hold to get what they want.
After one of week demonstrations, strain starts to show. Hong Kong being what it is, many small business people – restaurant owners, shop keeps, taxi drivers, etc. – cannot afford to see their operations shut down. To make it worse for them, organizers of the demonstrations chose the beginning of October to launch their occupation movement. This was meant to target October First, China’s National Day, so as to embarrass Beijing. The organizers, however, didn’t seem to have figured that before Beijing feels any effects of their occupation, small business people suffer heavy financial losses, which they can ill-afford. National-Day holiday is one of the two most important vacation time for mainland Chinese. Many Hong Kong businesses have been looking forward to the Golden Week when large numbers of shoppers would show up. Due to the occupation in the past week, however, they have seen few patrons to drop by. In the past couple of days some of those shop keeps have gone out into the streets to confront the demonstrators, most of them college students, and demand that they withdraw from the commercial districts.
What’s next? Something bad may happen somehow, which will lead to the escalation of the troubles in Hong Kong. On the other hand, the occupation movement may just dissipate and the people in Hong Kong will tackle their problems the way they know best - pragmatically.