Demonstrators in Hong Kong are promising to continue their street protests in support of democratic reforms. The demonstrators have been calling for fully democratic elections in the Chinese territory’s elections for chief executive in 2017. China ruled in August that a special committee must approve all candidates for the position. Many committee members are said to be loyal to the government in Beijing.
This week, some protest leaders announced plans to surrender to police as a show of respect for Hong Kong law.
Chinese President Xi Jinping says the Hong Kong protests are illegal. In his words, “law and order must be maintained.” The president spoke Wednesday in Beijing.
His comments were just the latest sign that the Chinese government is losing its willingness to permit the demonstrations. Some protesters believe that Chinese officials could begin enforcing a court order to clear protest areas in the coming days.
Protester Pa Sha has been camping out in central Hong Kong. He is with a group called Socialist Action. He says the demonstrations will continue even if police successfully clear the streets.
“There might be a period of low tide, but that eventually there will be a recurrence of the movement.”
The government in Hong Kong has ordered the main demonstration areas to close. The Chinese territory’s acting Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, has said that “police are preparing to enforce the law, including making arrests.”
This week, three leaders of the “Occupy Central” movement announced plans to surrender. The movement is one of the main groups supporting the protests. The three said they will surrender themselves in an act of disobedience that shows respect for the law.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists say they are prepared for the struggle to continue into next year. That is when Hong Kong’s legislature plans to vote on China’s plan for electoral reform.
Emily Lau is a lawmaker and head of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party.
“The administration has not said then they will bring it to the council for a vote. It may be the spring or summer of next year. So actually it could be many months down the road.”
The University of Hong Kong released results of a survey at the beginning of this week. The study found that 70 percent of protesters believe the pro-democracy demonstrations should continue. But 79 percent of Hong Kong people who have not joined the protests believe the demonstrators should go home.
Emily Lau says the protest movement grew more than what Hong Kong’s government or the protesters themselves expected.
“There is a distinction between civil disobedience and other illegal activities. But nevertheless we know that it is civil disobedience, and we are prepared to take the consequences. But it’s just that the whole thing has developed completely out of anybody’s expectation.”
She noted that in an earlier police operation, officers used tear gas against the protesters. She says that use of force led hundreds of thousands of people to join the demonstrators. This, she adds, raises the stakes for any future clashes.
I’m Mario Ritter.
*This report was based on a story from reporter Shannon Van Sant in Beijing. George Grow wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Jeri Watson was the editor.
Words in This Story
protests - n., demonstrations; objections
democratic - adj., based on a form of government in which the people make decisions by voting
candidates - n. people who seek or are nominated for office or an honor
law - n. all or any rules made by a government
raises the stakes – idiom, an expression meaning increasing the importance, probability or danger of
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