Just the hope that 2014 would bring positive changes isn’t enough for the people of Hong Kong anymore. On New Year’s Day, they decided to take their future into their own hands. Thousands hit the streets in protest, demanding that the Chinese government organize free and fair elections in their state as soon as possible.
At around 3pm local time, the crowd of 30,000 – as per the organizers’ estimates – gathered at Victoria Park and marched towards the city’s center. They waved placards and expressed their displeasure at the status quo. Their demand was simple. They want true democracy, and they want it now.
The state, nicknamed “Pearl of the Orient,” is currently under the control of the China-chosen executive CY Leung, but the locals aren’t happy with his performance and long for the power to be delegated to them so that a leader of their liking could be instated.
“I'm protesting because every chief executive we've had has not been good, because they were appointed by Beijing,” 65-year-old Peter Tsui told Reuters. “If we get to choose our own chief executive, it'll be better.”
China, in spirit, has agreed to hold elections in Hong Kong, but they plan to do so no earlier than 2017. Moreover, rumor has it that their nomination criteria would filter out anti-Beijing politicians, again leaving Hong Kong in the hands of the government’s puppets.
“What we want is the right to elect our leaders so that our leaders have a genuine mandate to govern Hong Kong,” said the former chief secretary of Hong Kong, Anson Chan. “This will improve governance. We also want to see Hong Kong people having a genuine choice in electing their leaders and no screening mechanism.”
If Wednesday’s protest fails to achieve its objective, then locals plan on launching a massive shut-down strike next summer that could potentially cripple the country’s overall economy.