TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Billionaire Convicted of Conspiracy to Bribe Top Official

Thomas Kwok
Thomas Kwok, co-chairman of Hong Kong developer Sun Hung Kai Properties, arrives at the High Court in Hong Kong on Dec. 19, 2014 Kin Cheung—AP

Thomas Kwok has a net worth of over $10 billion, making him one of Asia's richest people

Hong Kong billionaire Thomas Kwok was convicted of conspiring to bribe one of the city’s former top officials on Friday, following five days of deliberations by a nine-member jury.

Kwok was found guilty of colluding with Hong Kong’s former No.2 government official Rafael Hui to make payments of $1.1 million and ensure favorable treatment for his real estate company, Bloomberg reports.

Kwok’s brother Raymond, who was also arrested in March 2012 and is co-chairman of the world’s second largest real estate company Sun Hung Kai, was cleared of all charges, while two others were convicted for their role in the scandal.

Both brothers are worth around $10 billion each, placing them in the top tier of Asia’s richest people.

Hui, the former chief secretary of Hong Kong, was convicted on five charges including conspiracy to accept bribes while he was in office.

[Bloomberg]

TIME Macau

You Now Can’t Use Umbrellas Around China’s Leader, Even if It Rains

Xi Jinping Peng Liyuan
In this photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, and his wife Peng Liyuan, center right, wave as they arrive at the international airport in Macau on Dec. 19, 2014 Cheong Kam Ka—AP

Umbrellas have become a symbol of democracy, creating a farcical dilemma for Communist Party leaders

Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution has turned the humble brolly into such a potent symbol of democracy that it appears China’s President Xi Jinping does not want them in his presence.

When Xi landed in the gaming enclave of Macau on Friday, journalists waiting to cover his arrival were told not to use umbrellas — even though it was raining. Media were given raincoats instead, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) reported.

No one in the official greeting party for the Chinese leader used umbrellas, either, Agence France-Presse remarked.

It was unclear who had made the Orwellian decision to banish umbrellas. Airport authorities in Macau claimed that it was too windy to hold umbrellas, lest they supposedly flew out of hands and endangered aircraft.

According to the Hong Kong Observatory’s website, Macau experienced northerly winds of no more than 19 km/h on Friday.

Umbrellas became a political icon after Hong Kong demonstrators used them to protect themselves against police pepper spray and batons during their 79-day fight for free elections. The street occupations ended on Dec. 15, but umbrellas have remained a poignant symbol of resistance against considerable odds.

That may put China’s political leaders, in their expensive gray suits, in a farcical bind over how to stay dry at public functions when the weather is against them.

In late October, a photo of Xi holding an umbrella — taken a year earlier, when umbrellas had no political connotations — won China’s top journalism prize. However, it was quickly turned into a meme by democracy protesters, and into life-size cardboard cutouts that were erected in the protest areas, where posing for a photo with the President, umbrella unfurled, became a must for visitors.

Xi is in Macau for two days to commemorate the gambling hub’s 15th year back in China’s hands, after centuries of colonial rule under the Portuguese. He is expected to use his presence there to gently dissuade the Chinese enclave — which, like Hong Kong, is governed under a “one country, two systems” formula — from going the way of unruly Hong Kong, where dissidents are agitating for the right to freely elect the head of the city’s government.

TIME Macau

Chinese President Xi Jinping to Visit a Restive Macau

China's President Xi attends a meeting with former U.S. President Clinton at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing
China's President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with former U.S. President Bill Clinton at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 18, 2013 Jason Lee—Reuters

Is Macau the next Hong Kong? Not if Beijing has its way

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Macau on Friday to commemorate the tiny enclave’s 15th anniversary of its transfer from Portuguese rule back to China’s hands.

During his visit, Xi will undertake the unenviable task of laying the groundwork to make sure that Macau, a metropolis of casinos and the only place in China where casino gambling is legal, does not go the way of Hong Kong, the rogue city awash in political discontent, Reuters reports.

That will be challenging: amidst Xi’s nationwide crackdown on corruption, Macau’s booming casinos, widely seen as salves to political woes here, are experiencing an unprecedented slump — its six biggest operators saw revenues slashed by about $75 billion this year. Meanwhile, a fledgling democratic movement has emerged out of frustrations with rising inequality and other social ills in this gambling hub.

Macau is in name a cousin to Hong Kong, with which its shares its designation as a Chinese special administrative region and enjoys certain rights and privileges alien on the mainland. However, it has in practice hewed much more closely to the mainland than Hong Kong.

Read more at Reuters

TIME

The Most Powerful Protest Photos of 2014

There wasn't a corner of the planet untouched by protest this year, from the tear-gassed streets of Ferguson to the student camps of Hong Kong

In 2011, TIME named the Protester as the Person of the Year, in recognition of the twin people-power earthquakes of the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. TIME named the Ebola Fighters as the 2014 Person of the Year, but you could have forgiven if we went back to the Protester. There wasn’t a corner of the planet untouched by protest this year, from the tear-gassed streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to the squares of Mexico City, to the impromptu student camps of Hong Kong. Many of the protests were remarkably peaceful, like Occupy Hong Kong, which was galvanized by public anger over the overreaction of the city’s police. Others turned bloody, like the Euromaidan protests in Kiev, Ukraine, which eventually brought down the government of pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, in turn triggering a war that led to the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in May and the deaths of thousands of Ukrainians.

Not every protest was as effective as those that began the year in the cold of Kiev. Hong Kongers still don’t have full democratic rights, gay rights are on the retreat in much of east Africa and every day seems to bring news of another questionable police killing in the U.S. But the wave of social action that ended 2014 is unlikely to crest in 2015. The ubiquity of camera phones means no shortage of iconic photographs and videos from any protest, whether in Lima or Los Angeles, and social media gives everyone the means to broadcast. What follows are some of the most powerful images from the global streets in 2014.

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Final Protest Site Has Been Cleared

Hong Kong Democracy Protest
An excavation shovel is lowered to pick up an umbrella left behind by protesters as police clear barricades and tents on a main road in the occupied areas at Causeway Bay district in Hong Kong on Dec 15, 2014 Vincent Yu—AP

Causeway Bay, the smallest protest site and the democracy movement's final bastion, was demolished without resistance

The 79-day occupation of Hong Kong’s streets by pro-democracy protesters met a rather lackluster end on Monday morning, as police cleared the last of three protest sites in a matter of hours.

The clearance of the Causeway Bay camp, a small street occupation that was partly set up to accommodate the spillover from the main camp in the Admiralty district, began at around 10 a.m. with a 20-minute warning from police telling the protesters to clear out.

The authorities moved in soon after, and hurriedly cleared barricades, tents and protest artwork in a process devoid of the drama of the Admiralty clearance four days earlier or the conflict that accompanied the removal of the Mong Kok protest site across the harbor in Kowloon the week before that.

The Causeway Bay site, over the course of the past few weeks, had dwindled to a hundred-meter stretch of road held down by less than a hundred protesters. Most of these vacated the area before the police moved in, except for 20 who remained seated in the streets and were subsequently arrested.

The streets were then cleaned, swept and washed down before traffic resumed later in the afternoon. A final small group of tents in the area behind Hong Kong’s Legislative Council building was also cleared without incident later in the afternoon, the South China Morning Post reported.

The clearances marked the end of a two-and-a-half month occupation of Hong Kong’s streets by protesters demanding the right to freely elect their leader, known as the chief executive, after the Chinese government said it would screen candidates for the next election in 2017. The protests ended without the Beijing or Hong Kong governments acceding to any of the protesters’ demands, and the highly unpopular current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, said Monday morning that the movement had caused a “serious loss” to the city’s economy and rule of law.

The protesters, however, are determined not to give up.

“I think there is still hope, because many people still come out and support us,” 19-year-old protester Tommy Lam told TIME on Sunday night, hours before the Causeway Bay site was cleared. “Whatever the police do, we will still continue fighting for true democracy.”

TIME Hong Kong

79 Days That Shook Hong Kong

Hong Kong's street occupations have ended, but many demonstrators say this is only the beginning of their fight for free elections

Hong Kong authorities on Monday began tearing down the last of the city’s pro-democracy camps, bringing a quiet end to two and a half months of street occupations that constituted the most significant political protest in China since 1989’s Tiananmen Square uprising in Beijing.

By Tuesday, all three protest sites — in the Admiralty, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay districts — will be gone. The streets will be tidied up and returned to traffic, office workers and shoppers.

The protesters are leaving the streets with few tangible results. Beijing has rejected their insistence that Hong Kongers should have the right to freely elect the head of the city’s government without a pro-establishment committee first handpicking the candidates.

The Hong Kong government has also made it clear that it sees itself as a local representative of the central government, and is unwilling to convey the democratic aspirations of many of its people to Beijing.

Yet what has appeared out of the political hothouse of the tent cities is something with much more potential to undermine the Communist Party’s control over this wayward southern city, already culturally estranged from the mainland — and that is a generation of Hong Kongers who have defied Beijing, who have vowed to defy it again, and whose actions have generated a collection of resonant images that will inspire Hong Kongers for a long time to come.

After police used tear gas against protesters on Sept. 28, tens of thousands rallied to the streets. Right by the walls of the People’s Liberation Army barracks and the Hong Kong government’s headquarters, demonstrators unfurled umbrellas to protect themselves against police pepper spray. The poignant image of ordinary Hong Kongers standing up to a foe like China with nothing but these everyday items gave birth to the movement’s name: the Umbrella Revolution.

By November, the protests had contracted. The weather turned petulant, the protest leadership sparred and splintered, and demonstrators camped in the streets began to wonder how long the governments in Hong Kong and Beijing were content to let them wait. Public opinion, too, turned against the protests, with commuters complaining of epic traffic snarls caused by barricaded thoroughfares — among them Hong Kong’s major arteries — and business owners in the occupied areas feeling the pressure of reduced takings.

In one of the last rites of defiance, more than 200 protesters, including leading democratic legislators, refused to leave the largest protest site as police and demolition crews approached it last week — except, those demonstrators said, under duress and in a police van. In a process that took hours and made for a dramatic scene, police escorted — and sometimes carried — protesters off the pavement, one by one, toward a waiting police bus.

Left behind in the streets, as the final demonstrators were shown out, were countless signs, chalked on the roads, posted on walls, hung as banners and even floated into the sky on balloons. They all promised the same thing: “We will be back.”

Here, in 30 photographs, is a record of Hong Kong’s political awakening, and proof that the threat to return to the streets is not an idle one.

TIME portfolio

The Best Pictures of the Week: Dec. 5 – Dec. 12

From the ongoing protests against police brutality in the U.S. and the dismantling of the main pro-democracy protest camp in Hong Kong to the British royal couple’s first New York visit and Malala Yousafzai receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: December 11

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Here’s the New Way Colleges Are Predicting Student Grades

U.S. schools are combing through years of data covering millions of grades earned by thousands of former students to gauge the probability that a student will finish school, and prop up those who might not by sending academic advisers or deans to intervene

Congress Hands a Mixed Bag to Marijuana Movement

The year-end spending bill gives momentum to the marijuana legalization movement, plus a painful setback

Why Uber’s Rape Scandal Is More Than a ‘Growing Pain’

Uber’s breakneck growth isn’t an excuse for the controversial rideshare and taxi service’s problems, TIME’s Jack Linshi writes

White House Salutes TIME’s Person of the Year

W.H. Press Secretary Josh Earnest congratulated Ebola responders Wednesday for being named TIME’s Person of the Year. “The President could not be prouder of the brave men and women who’ve committed themselves to this effort in a foreign land,” Earnest said

Hong Kong’s Main Democracy Protest Camp Falls

Authorities began clearing Hong Kong’s largest protest camp on Thursday, putting an end to a street occupation that has been a flashpoint for a bitter confrontation between pro-democracy protesters and city authorities, as well as the central government in Beijing

Dick Cheney Says Senate Torture Report Is ‘Full of Crap’

Former Vice President Dick Cheney called the recently released report on the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11 a “terrible piece of work,” in an interview that aired on Wednesday, “We did exactly what needed to be done,” Cheney said

Ebola Rages on in Sierra Leone With Over 1,000 New Cases

Sierra Leone has reported 1,319 new cases of Ebola virus infections in the last 21 days, according to WHO. The country has surpassed Liberia, which has experienced a steady decrease in cases over the last four weeks

NFL Owners Approve Revamped Personal Conduct Policy

Owners voted to approve a revamped personal conduct policy after scrutiny for the league’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal. Commissioner Roger Goodell had acknowledged that under the previous policy, “our penalties didn’t fit the crimes”

U.S. Support of Guns Is Up After 2012 School Shooting

Americans’ opinions on gun rights have shifted further into the “pro” column since the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, which is approaching its second anniversary this month, according to new data from the Pew Research Center

eBay Is Said to Mull Big Layoffs Ahead of PayPal Split

The online marketplace is reportedly considering a plan to lay off as much as 10% of its workforce in anticipation of its planned split with online payment processing service PayPal by mid-2015, according to a new report citing company insiders

Survey: Most Millionaires Want Hillary Clinton for President

Hillary Clinton polled the most votes in a new survey that asked 500 U.S. millionaires whom they would choose for President. She came in a comfortable front-runner at 31%. Second was Jeb Bush with 18%, and the remaining votes were split between seven other politicians

Bill Cosby Accuser Files Defamation Lawsuit

A retired California attorney who says the comedian and actor drugged and groped her more than four decades ago filed a defamation lawsuit on Wednesday, claiming he “impugned” her reputation and exposed her to “public contempt, ridicule, aversion or disgrace”

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TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Police Arrest Prominent Radicals in Home Raids

Police & Bailiffs Move In To Clear Hong Kong Protest Sites After Seven Weeks of Demonstrations
Activist Wong Yeung-tat attends a protest at the Occupy Mongkok Occupy site on Nov. 21, 2014, in Hong Kong. He was arrested on Dec. 11 on multiple charges of unlawful assembly Lam Yik Fei—Getty Images

Swoop nets head of the populist pro-democracy group Civic Passion, among others

Hong Kong police on Wednesday and Thursday arrested several dissidents at or near their homes, as authorities concurrently prepared to clear the city’s main protest camp.

Wong Yeung-tat, head of the anti-Beijing organization Civic Passion, was arrested near his home at 1 p.m. on Thursday on 59 counts of unlawful assembly, according to his party’s news outlet.

Home arrests on Wednesday included: Alvin Cheng, the leader of a hard-line group, Student Front, which rejects nonviolence; Anthony So, a member of People Power, a far-left political party; and Raphael Wong, vice chairman of the League of Social Democrats.

The three arrests, on suspicion of unlawful assembly, were reported by the government-funded Radio Television Hong Kong.

Civic Passion is perhaps the most recognizable of the vocal, insistent groups at the fringes of Hong Kong’s democratic movement. It has had choice words not just for the government, but for the protest’s unofficial student leaders, accusing them of timidity in confronting the government for the right to free and fair elections here.

The spate of arrests shortly preceded the arrival of police at the protest camp in Admiralty district, where they began dismantling the sprawling tent settlement. Protesters have spent more than two months in the camp to seek, against tough odds, the right to freely elect the city’s head of government.

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Main Democracy Protest Camp Falls With Leading Protest Figures Arrested

But demonstrators say that their 75-day occupation is just the start of a push for greater freedom

Authorities arrested leading figures in Hong Kong’s democracy movement while clearing the city’s largest protest camp on Thursday, putting an end to a 75-day street occupation that has been a flashpoint for a bitter confrontation between pro-democracy protesters and the Hong Kong authorities, as well as the central government in Beijing.

Police brusquely tore down hundreds if not thousands of tents in Hong Kong’s Admiralty district, enforcing an injunction won by a local bus company against the protesters, who have been blocking some of Hong Kong Island’s most vital roads. The occupation of the upscale commercial district — which is also home to government offices and the local military headquarters — was the main push of a student-led protest calling for free elections.

Officers made numerous arrests from a group of about a hundred demonstrators staging a final sit-in near the local Chinese People’s Liberation Army base, including prominent democratic legislators Emily Lau, Martin Lee and Alan Leong. Police also arrested high-profile protest personalities Jimmy Lai, a media mogul; Denise Ho, a popular singer; and Audrey Eu, a former lawmaker.

In a methodical process that took hours, officers led the arrested protesters one by one to police vans and carried out those who refused to walk. Student protest leader Alex Chow, who rallied the crowd over a microphone as the group awaited arrest, was among the last protesters escorted by police out of the former protest site on Thursday night.

Hundreds of other protesters filed out of the camp through designated exits on Thursday afternoon, turning over required identification information to police as they left. One officer said the information was needed “for our follow-up, because this is an unlawful assembly.” Police had reiterated on Wednesday that the street occupations were illegal and that anyone still on the streets during the clearance risked arrest.

Most protesters said Thursday morning that they had returned to the camp not to resist the clearance, but to witness what they called the beginning of another era in a long-term democratic movement.

“This is definitely not the end of the movement,” lawmaker Leong told TIME just hours before his arrest. “With this awakening of the Hong Kong people, we have sown the seeds for the next wave of the democratization movement.”

Chow, the student leader who was later arrested, told reporters before the clearing that he was “very optimistic that people will be coming out again.” “People in Hong Kong have changed,” he said.

Workers began demolition at the camp’s periphery at around 10:30 a.m., cutting and sawing at barricades fashioned from bamboo poles and crowd-control barriers that had been seized from police in the early days of the so-called Umbrella Revolution. Facing them was 12-year-old student, Jimmy Chow — exemplifying the youth of many of the demonstrators, among whom high school students in uniform have been frequently seen. He was poised to launch a paper airplane on which he had written that the government was “criminal,” but under the gaze of bailiffs decided not to throw it.

Nearby, workers pulled down a barricade with a banner reading, “It’s just the beginning” — words of defiance from the protesters, but a phrase that could be equally read as a warning to them from the demolition crews forming on Connaught Road.

Though the injunction covered just part of the protest site, police had also said they would dismantle the entire camp on Thursday afternoon. For the most part, they met little resistance in disassembling a formerly neat encampment into a sprawl of tarps and spare wood. Many demonstrators had left before police began their clearance, packing up the boxes of crackers and cakes that have fed this movement, rolling up their sleeping mats, and leaving the streets behind.

It was also an injunction won by transport companies that quickly felled a protest encampment last month in Mong Kok, a blue-collar neighborhood in the heart of the Kowloon peninsula. Demonstrators in Admiralty said that they were powerless to prevent the new clearance and wondered what was next.

“I feel hopeless,” says Kevin Choi, 26, an engineer, dismounting a skateboard he was riding through the increasingly sparse protest site. “There’s no direction after this.”

Yet some protesters said that they were, in other ways, stronger then ever.

“I don’t think we can stop the police,” said Frank Cho, 21, a student sitting on a concrete highway divider, just before the teardown began. But, he continued, “In two or three months, we will come out with bigger numbers and stronger faith.”

Since late September, Admiralty district has served as the heart of the pro-democracy movement. It has been home to a village of tents whose color and size have been in stark opposition to the grey, titanic government headquarters looming near them, yet whose smoothness of operation would be the pride of any civil servant.

The village has been an incubator to a generation of politicized Hong Kongers. Yet it had fallen on hard times in recent weeks. The weather turned wet and cold. Numbers that had, in October, reached the tens of thousands bottomed out to the hundreds by November. Morale fell further when student leader Joshua Wong — one of TIME’s Most Influential Teens for 2014 — and other students began a hunger strike then quietly ended it after failing to move po-faced government officials to restart talks. By the time Wong called off his fast, at 108 hours, he was in a wheelchair.

Numbers returned in the past couple of days as Hong Kongers came to say farewell to what has become one of the most significant sites in their history — and may one day prove to be one in China’s too. Many took photos and videos of the posters, the people, and the protest art and other landmarks found throughout the village, which protesters called Umbrella Square.

Some carried on as usual, diligently tending to homework in the tarpaulin-covered study area. Others just draped their elbows over the flyovers that have been popular lookout points, watching and waiting. The Lennon Wall, an internationally recognized expanse of concrete that had, for the past 75 days, borne brightly colored Post-it notes of support from all over the world, was stripped almost bare, its messages to be archived by volunteers.

The night before the teardown, protesters had flung yellow confetti and glitter into the air, celebrating a beginning, not an end. At the far reaches of Harcourt Road, the tarmac was still thickly strewn with it, and it glittered in the weak early morning sun of Thursday. Chalked, posted and hung on banners everywhere was the promise “We’ll be back.”

— With reporting by Rishi Iyengar, David Stout and Helen Regan / Hong Kong

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