On Thursday, Hong Kong students announced plans to hold a week-long strike in response to Beijing’s refusal to grant the semi-autonomous city full universal suffrage.
The move came as a major financial backer of the pro-democracy group that has vowed to take over the city’s streets said the axing of his long-running newspaper column was politically motivated.
Activists in the former British colony had their hopes for genuine democracy crushed after China announced on Sunday that the city’s next leader would be vetted by a pro-Beijing committee.
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The top committee of China’s rubber stamp parliament said on Sunday that Hong Kong citizens will be allowed to elect their next leader in 2017 — but candidates must be approved y a pro-Beijing committee, with only two to three contenders allowed to stand.
A coalition of pro-democracy groups have vowed to usher in a new “era of civil disobedience” against the decision, calling on the people of Hong Kong to blockade major thoroughfares in the city’s financial district.
Students plan to walk away from classes on September 22 in what they described as a final warning before wider civil disobedience action.
The proposal still needs to be approved by a coalition of student groups and unions on Saturday, leaders said.
“We strike as an ultimatum to warn the government to listen to our opinions,” president of the Hong Kong University (HKU) student union Yvonne Leung told AFP.
In the afternoon students from Chinese University of Hong Kong met next to a replica of the “Goddess of Democracy” statue on the university’s campus — a throw back to the student-led movement in Beijing that was brutally crushed 25-years ago.
The original statue became a rallying point for pro-democracy supporters in Tiananmen Square and was destroyed in the crackdown.
“We have to make our voices heard, to show the Communist Party we’re not afraid, to show them we care about what happens in Hong Kong,” 21-year-old Hazel Ng said.
“I want to strike exactly because I love China, free elections will be good for the entire country,” added 21-year-old Eddie Mung, a fourth year nursing student added.
As the students met, hedge-fund manager Edward Chin, a wealthy backer of the Occupy Central movement that has threatened civil disobedience called on locals to “uphold” media freedom in the city during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.