Thousands of students in Hong Kong have begun a one-week boycott of classes. The students are protesting China’s decision not to permit what they consider fully democratic elections in the former British territory. College and university students gathered at Hong Kong University Monday to start the boycott with a large demonstration. Hundreds of teachers have also promised support for the students.
Boycott organizers are angered at China’s decision in August to bar open nominations for Hong Kong’s chief executive, its top official. The election is set for 2017. The National People’s Congress announced the restrictions last month. The restrictions mean Hong Kong voters will not be able to directly nominate candidates for the office. Voters will be able to choose from a list of candidates approved by a pro-China nominating committee. Hong Kong democracy activists disapprove of this system. Currently, an election committee chooses Hong Kong’s top official.
The political dispute has caused some people living in Hong Kong to consider leaving. The Chinese University of Hong Kong recently carried out a public opinion study. The study showed that more than 20 percent of people questioned were thinking about leaving Hong Kong because of its political future. The last time large numbers of people left was before the territory changed from British to Chinese control in 1997.
Willy Lam teaches at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He says the Chinese government does not want Hong Kong to become a center for anti-China activity. He says the Chinese government appears unwilling to compromise on the issue. This, he says, has led to concern about the future of China’s ‘one country, two systems’ policy.
“So people now are generally very pessimistic about the future viability of the ‘one country two systems’ model.”
Mr. Lam says, however, that the people leaving Hong Kong are being replaced by mainland Chinese educated in the West.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong study found that more than half of those questioned said they did not trust the Hong Kong or Chinese governments. Chinese officials had promised the former British territory a wide measure of self-rule, including voting rights, as part of the agreement to return Hong Kong to China. Some believe that promise is violated by the lack of open nominations for the chief executive position.
I’m Mario Ritter.
This story was based on a report from VOA’s Victor Beattie. Mario Ritter wrote it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
consider - v. to give thought to; to think about carefully
opinion - n. a belief based on one’s own ideas and thinking
teach - v. to show how to do something; to provide knowledge; to cause to understand
compromise - n. the settlement of an argument where each side agrees to accept less than first demanded
question - v. to ask; to ask for information
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