TIME politics

Protests in Hong Kong: A Brief History

Hong Kong protest 1967
A pro-China protester arrested by police officers during a demonstration in Hong Kong on May 18, 1967. Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images

The city has seen plenty of demonstrations over the past half century

Correction appended: Sept. 29, 2014, 9:50 a.m. E.T.

For a region of only about 400 square miles, Hong Kong has seen more than its share of protest in the last century. The uprising that sprang into action this week — as “Occupy Central” protesters demand the ability to elect their next local government head, the Chief Executive, without the intervention of Beijing — is part of a long history of political conflict in the area.

1967: Communists in the British colony of Hong Kong rise in support of the Cultural Revolution sweeping China

When England took control of Hong Kong in 1842 after the first Opium War, British Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston is said to have remarked that it was “a barren island with hardly a house upon it” — but by the middle of the 20th century Hong Kong was becoming a prosperous business center. The cultural difference between the Communist mainland and the neighboring region was thrown into stark contrast in 1967.

Though the initial protests of that summer seemed to have arisen organically among Hong Kong workers, China supported the movement from afar and issued an ultimatum demanding that arrested protesters be freed; the ultimatum, however, did not involve any question of British control of the area. As TIME explained, the situation between the two nations was one of “mutual dependence”:

Britain wants to hold onto Hong Kong to protect its vast investments and to retain a Far Eastern headquarters for British banking and trade interests. It also does not know how it could gracefully withdraw from Hong Kong under the present circumstances without totally losing face in the Orient. In recent years, Red China has been building up its influence in the Crown Colony, and Britain has been too afraid of offending its overpowering neighbor to do anything about it. As a result, about one-fifth of the colony’s Chinese, who make up 99% of the 4,000,000 population, are openly pro-Peking, and the rest play it safe. Red China commands the support of three of Hong Kong’s major daily newspapers, the most important labor unions, and a large number of schoolteachers, which is one reason a high proportion of young Chinese in Hong Kong are Maoists.

That July, when shots from across the Chinese border killed five Hong Kong police officers, the U.K. responded by sending in troops, the first armed confrontation between British and Chinese soldiers in Hong Kong since Communist rule had begun in China nearly two decades before. Though the stand-off between the two powers could have gotten even more intense, by early August things had calmed down.

And that bitter history did not keep China and Hong Kong from getting closer in the decade that followed. Rather, they grew to rely on one another, economically at least: TIME reported in 1979 that China sent an annual $2 billion in exports to Hong Kong, while the same amount went back to the mainland in remittances from residents and earnings of Chinese companies located there. Hong Kong businesses relied on Chinese labor, while the Chinese government used Hong Kong as an outlet for its economic dealings with the rest of the world.

1989: Tiananmen Square helps Hong Kong’s independent political identity take shape

Economic interdependence was a major factor in shaping the 1984 decision about what Hong Kong would look after the U.K. handed over control in 1997. According to the agreement, the preexisting “system of law” and capitalist economy would be preserved even as the region became part of China. The decade-long period of transition, however, was marked by more strife.

In 1989, as pro-democracy protests gripped the mainland, a full one-sixth of Hong Kong’s population (by TIME’s count) came out to march in support of that cause. Meanwhile, many in Hong Kong weren’t much happier with the U.K. than they were with China: even as it began to seem that Beijing’s grasp on Hong Kong might be tighter than expected, Westminster also made it harder for residents of the colony to settle in the U.K., a move that left many Hong Kong residents feeling stranded between two cultures. After the Tiananmen Square massacre that summer, the modern Hongkonger identity began to crystallize. According to TIME’s reporter in Hong Kong at the time, Hong Kong residents were both firmly pro-democracy and firmly Chinese:

The glittering glass-and-steel Bank of China, Southeast Asia’s tallest building and a prominent addition to Hong Kong’s spectacular skyline, was to embody the faith that both Hong Kong and China placed in a common future, a visible symbol of the ”one country, two systems” promised when the British crown colony reverts to China in 1997. Last week two enormous black-and-white banners drooped across the tower’s facade bearing a grim message in Chinese characters: BLOOD MUST BE PAID WITH BLOOD.

Overnight the savage massacre in Tiananmen Square shattered Hong Kong’s wary faith in that future. Thousands donned funeral garb to mourn the dead of Beijing. The stock market plunged 22% in one day in a paroxysm of lost confidence. Chinese flocked to mainland banks to withdraw their money, as much in anger as in fear. And the largely apolitical people of this freewheeling monument to commercialism discovered a newfound political activism.

The grief and fury felt in Hong Kong are the latest expression of a startling change in the colony’s view of itself. Throughout its almost 150-year history as a bold, pushy trading enclave, the business of Hong Kong has been business. The colony was a place where foreigners and Chinese alike came to make money and get away from the political turmoil on the mainland. But since the student movement blossomed in Beijing last April, Hong Kong has been galvanized. It has found an identity at last, and it is Chinese.

2003: Pro-democracy protests return

In the early ’90s, Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten — the last British governor of the region — proposed a plan to further democratize Hong Kong’s government, over Beijing’s objections. So when the transfer took place in 1997, the question of how much democracy would last, and for how long, lurked beneath the smoothness of the hand-over.

Less than a decade later, that concern proved well-founded: in 2003, Hong Kong residents took part in what was the biggest pro-democracy protest in the whole country since 1989, sparked by a new antisubversion national security law, which ended up not passing. As TIME noted, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive had been counted on to “keep Hong Kong in its place,” but it was becoming clear that such a task was easier said than done.

2014: “Occupy Central” begins

Read more about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong here, on TIME.com: Hong Kong’s Protesters are Fighting for Their Economic Future

Read TIME’s 1989 cover story about the Tiananmen Square massacre, free of charge, here in TIME’s archives: Despair and Death In a Beijing Square

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the year in which England took control of Hong Kong. It is 1842, not 1942.

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Trade Unions Call for Strikes as Democracy Protests Swell

Hong Kong Streets The Day After Clashes Between Pro-Democracy Protesters And Police
Office workers walk through closed off streets in front of protesters near the central government offices in the business district of Central in Hong Kong on Sept. 29, 2014 Bloomberg—Getty Images

“Workers and students must unite to force the totalitarian government to hand state power back to the people,” one trades confederation says

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) has called for a strike Tuesday in support of the city’s snowballing democracy protests.

The call came after the city’s largest teachers’ union, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU), declared a strike in response to police’s forceful crackdown on demonstrators on Sunday.

“Hong Kong police used ruthless force to expel harmless citizens, inflicting injuries on demonstrators with the use of weapons, acting as enemies of the people,” read a statement released by HKPTU.

On Monday, education officials expressed their “deepest regret over the Professional Teachers’ Union initiation of a class and teaching boycott.”

The union’s decision to strike comes a week after student protest groups walked out of classes in response to Beijing’s decision last month to implement restrictive elections for the position of Chief Executive, the city’s highest office, in 2017.

Earlier on Monday, HKCTU asked workers to strike en masse, using language rarely seen in this mercantile enclave.

“HKCTU calls for all workers in Hong Kong to strike tomorrow, in protest of the ruling of the National People’s Congress, as well as the brutal suppression of peaceful protest by the Hong Kong government,” said the group. “Workers and students must unite to force the totalitarian government to hand state power back to the people.”

The South China Morning Post reported on Monday that about “80 to 100” delivery staff from the local Coca-Cola distributor had also gone on strike in support of democracy. Spontaneous strikes for political causes are extremely rare in Hong Kong. Also unusually, the company told the Post that it had “expressed understanding about the action.”

Analysts say that the further use of heavy-handed force by the police will broaden the support base for the protesters.

“People saw what happened with the protests and the violence used by the people and most of the public are very angry,” Mabel Au, director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, tells TIME. “That’s why the trade unions came out and called for a strike.”

TIME Macau

Trouble Is Brewing in the World’s Biggest Gambling Hub

Gaming Workers Stage Labor Protest Against Casino Operators
SJM gaming workers protest in front of the Wynn Macau casino resort in Macau on Aug. 25, 2014 Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Chinese gaming city of Macau generates seven times the revenue of Vegas, but in the shadow of the casinos it's been a long, hot summer of discontent

Like gambling enclaves everywhere, Macau is awash in neon light. But if the lights seem to shine just that bit brighter here than elsewhere, that’s because this Special Autonomous Region of China — made up of a small peninsula, two islands and a chunk of reclamation on China’s southern coast — is the world’s richest gaming hub by far, and looks set to get even bigger.

Macau is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal (horse racing on a lavish scale takes place just across the Pearl River estuary in Hong Kong). That makes this onetime Portuguese colony the darling of international gaming juggernauts: it has 35 casinos in just 29.5 sq km (11.4 square miles). Last year, gaming companies, including global heavyweights Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International, took in more than $45 billion here, about seven times more than they did in Las Vegas.

Naturally, all the trappings of money are here, or will be — from designer boutiques to expensive Russian prostitutes to what will be the world’s largest fleet of Rolls Royce Phantoms, destined for a high-roller hotel that will open in 2016 with a presidential suite priced at $130,000 a night, and invitation-only jewelry stores where items will start at $1 million each.

But where there are a few people with a lot of money, there tend to be many discontented others without it, and Macau is no exception.

Among ordinary Macanese, widespread dissatisfaction with how the enclave’s government has handled numerous social issues — from income inequality to lagging rights for casino workers — has fueled a yearning for a government that is “accountable to us,” in the words of Jason Chao, the president of a fledgling pro-democracy group, the Open Macau Society.

Over the past few months, Macau has fairly rumbled with discontent, witnessing an unprecedented number of protests that signal what some observers believe is the beginning of a slow revolt against the status quo, where Beijing holds all the political cards.

“People are beginning to realize that the government is depriving them of the rights they deserve,” said Chao. “We are still in the early stages of change, but change is happening.”

Macau returned from Portuguese to Chinese sovereignty in 1999, and, like China’s other Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, is governed under the so-called “one country, two systems” principle.

The “two” part allows Macau’s citizens considerable freedoms not available in China. But the “one” part grants Beijing lordship over Macau’s political affairs, including the vetting of members of the committee that elects the city’s leader — a mayor-like role that bears the fittingly corporate title of Chief Executive.

So, on Aug. 28th, Macau’s 400-member electoral committee, comprising mostly Beijing loyalists, re-elected Fernando Chui as Macau’s Chief Executive. The ballot only had his name on it.

Macau’s democratic camp would like a Chief Executive directly elected by universal suffrage in 2019 — but in a town of reckless gamblers, nobody’s betting on it. Macau’s miniconstitution, known as the Basic Law, neither promises universal suffrage nor does it even guarantee election by committee. Beijing, if it wants, can sidestep the whole pseudo-election process and simply conduct local “consultations” to appoint a Chief Executive, the law says.

Unsurprisingly, democrats are poorly represented at the political level. The current 33-seat legislature (only 14 of which are elected) has just two democrats and two independents.

“The rule of law is not very good in Macau,” is how Bill Chou explains the historic weakness of the opposition. Chou is the vice-president of the New Macau Association, the city’s leading opposition group and a former political-science professor at the University of Macau. His contract was not renewed this summer after he faced disciplinary action for allegedly imposing his views on students. (The university denies Chou was sacked for his political beliefs and says it supports academic freedom.)

“In order to do business, and in order to have a career, you have depend on the goodwill of the government,” Chou says. “So people are very reluctant to take on the government. They don’t think they are powerful enough to challenge it.”

But things do seem to be changing. This spring, some 20,000 people protested a law that would have heaped lavish benefits on government retirees, while significant infrastructure issues in Macau went unaddressed. It was the largest demonstration in Macau in years and forced Chief Executive Chui to postpone consideration of the bill.

Then, in August, activists organized an unofficial referendum on prospects for democracy: Do you want universal suffrage in 2019, participants were asked, and, do you have confidence in the government? The government condemned the poll as illegal, detained the organizers, including Chao, and shut down the polling stations. (Polling continued online, however, where almost all of the 8,688 Macanese who took part supported universal suffrage and a huge majority declared their lack of confidence in the Chief Executive).

Meanwhile, almost a dozen protests have been held this summer by casino workers protesting low wages and benefits packages. About a quarter of the workforce is employed in the gaming sector: white croupier shirts can be seen drip-drying on the washing lines outside many a Macanese apartment.

“People are just starting to complain because they can see all this wealth that Macau is making, and, of course, it doesn’t trickle down to the population,” says Eric Sautede, a former professor at Macau’s University of St. Joseph, who was fired in June over his antigovernment views. “Macau is very successful, but there are problems.”

Those problems are mainly related to Macau’s transformation into a place that belongs to visitors, but not to the more than 600,000 people who live here. Macau has just one public hospital and a miserable public-transportation system. Though casino employees’ salaries have doubled since 2003, such an increase seems meager against casino revenues that are 11 times higher than they were a decade ago, says Lei Kuok-keong, vice president of the Forefront of the Macau Gaming, an independent labor union founded two years ago. Meanwhile, the average price of housing in Macau rose to $12,202 per sq m in June, up more than 29% from a year earlier, according to government statistics.

“I’m pretty sure that the central authorities [in Beijing] are aware of these inequalities and know that they could translate into something that could really grow out of hand,” said Sautede. “Macau’s government has this habit of dragging, of waiting. It has no courage. If it continues to do nothing, it could precipitate some kind of opening for change.”

Before Macau elects its next Chief Executive in 2019, the city will have squeezed in at least two new casinos: in three years, SJM Holdings, the oldest casino operator here, will open the Lisboa Palace, a Versailles-themed casino connected to three hotels, including one designed by Karl Lagerfeld; meanwhile, Louis XIII Holdings Ltd., of the Rolls Royce Phantoms, is also building an eponymously named casino resort promising “unsurpassed levels of luxury.” Both Sands and Wynn resorts, which already have sprawls in the territory, also have plans to add new hotel-casino complexes.

In August, Chui’s acceptance speech struck a contrite tone — perhaps betraying an awareness that social unrest here is growing. “In retrospect, many social problems could have been resolved more expeditiously and effectively,” said Chui. He also promised to “resolve the social injustices caused by the domination of a single industry,” according to the South China Morning Post.

But frustration has so far continued.

Last weekend, hundreds of casino workers gathered near the Grand Lisboa, an SJM casino and a skyline hog that bears an unusual resemblance to a prize-winning vegetable, overgrown to misshapen proportions. Protesters, shouting and carrying pickets, wore black T-shirts and demanded better wages and benefits. Across the public square, Calvin Klein models straddled each other on a billboard.

Alex Chan, a 29-year-old protester and SJM casino worker, hovered in the crowd, standing next to a mural of the Statue of Liberty. He was fed up with the casino, he said. But more than that, he said, he was fed up with government lassitude.

“The government always stands with the casino companies,” said Chan, who last month voted online for universal suffrage in Macau. But, he said, “I don’t think that the government cares about the people.”

TIME russia

Thousands of Russians March for Peace in Ukraine

Rallies take place in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities

Thousands of people staged a peace march in Moscow on Sunday to protest against the Russian government’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict.

People of all ages joined the rally and many waved Ukrainian flags, chanting songs and holding banners that read “Hands off Ukraine!” and “No to war,” the Guardian reports.

“This march is to show the people that there’s quite a number of people who are against the war and don’t think that most Ukrainians are fascists,” 28-year-old Mikhail Garder told the Washington Post.

Sunday’s march was the biggest antiwar demonstration in Russia since clashes between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels began in April.

Officials put the number of protesters at 5,000 but volunteer group White Counter says the number was closer to 26,000 people, the Guardian said.

Many protesters felt the Kremlin was inciting the conflict in eastern Ukraine by equipping the rebels with arms and tanks.

“A war with Ukraine, that’s the most ridiculous, the most idiotic thing that Putin could have come up with,” protester Yuri Smagurov said. “We have put ourselves in such a position that we’re against everybody — against Europe, against ourselves, against the United States, against normal life.”

At one point, several peace marchers clashed with pro-Kremlin supporters along the route but scuffles were quickly stifled by riot police.

Smaller rallies were also held in St. Petersburg and other cities around the country.

TIME Environment

See Thousands March for Climate Change

400,000 people took to the streets of New York City Sunday to participate in the People's Climate March, which attracted celebrities like Edward Norton, and leaders like UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon

TIME Style

Why That Urban Outfitters Kent State Sweatshirt Caused an Uproar

Kent State Shootings
Mary Ann Vecchio kneels by the body of a student lying face down on the campus of Kent State University, Kent, Ohio on May 4, 1970. John Filo—AP Photo

The blood-like details on the sweatshirt seem to reference the deaths of four students in 1970

A sweatshirt offered for sale by Urban Outfitters on the retailer’s website caused outrage Monday as it seemed to market a bloody shirt from one of the most shocking episodes of the anti-Vietnam War movement. The sight of a faded “vintage” Kent State sweatshirt with red accents, which is no longer for sale, caused many people to notice that the marks on the fabric looked like blood. From there, the conclusion was simple: the sweatshirt seemed to be a reference to the May 4, 1970, Kent State shootings.

The resemblance was mere coincidence, the company later said, in an apology: “There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray.” Urban Outfitters may not have intended to offend (even though, as a consumer psychology expert told Money this morning, controversy is good for business) and it does seem possible that nobody at the millennial-centric company even thought of — or, perhaps, had ever heard of — a protest that happened more than four decades ago.

So what exactly happened at Kent State?

It took half a century to transform Kent State from an obscure teachers college into the second largest university in Ohio, with 21,000 students and an impressive array of modern buildings on its main campus,” TIME reported shortly after the shooting. “But it took less than ten terrifying seconds last week to convert the traditionally conformist campus into a bloodstained symbol of the rising student rebellion against the Nixon Administration and the war in Southeast Asia. When National Guardsmen fired indiscriminately into a crowd of unarmed civilians, killing four students, the bullets wounded the nation.”

On the night of May 1, as students at the Ohio university danced in the street, an unlucky driver attempted to get through the crowd. The mood in the country, amid a wave of student protests over the Vietnam War, was tense, and the confrontation over a traffic jam quickly became more serious, as students in the crowd started anti-war chants. The police used tear gas to get the students back to campus, but the conflict was still fresh when an administration-approved rally began the next day, a Saturday. The protest turned violent, and the local mayor requested help from the National Guard. On Sunday, Ohio governor James Rhodes said that the student protesters were “the worst type of people that we harbor in America” and, despite requests to close the campus, declared a state of emergency instead. When nearly 1,000 students staged a sit-in that night, it was against his order banning all protests.

Though classes started as usual on Monday, the protest ban still rankled students. Many — again, about 1,000 — assembled on campus, flaunting the ban and prompting the National Guard to respond with tear gas. Some students picked up the canisters and threw them back. To the student demonstrators, taunting the Guardsmen was a more serious game of catch. “…Delighted spectators, watching from the hilltop, windows of buildings and the roof of another men’s dorm, cheered,” TIME reported. “Many demonstrators were laughing.”

But then the tear gas ran out. The Guardsmen retreated to the top of a hill, watching the crowd. They fired.

The protest, noisy and chaotic, stopped. Four students were dead. William K. Schroeder, 19, had been a spectator. Sandra Lee Scheuer, 20, had been walking to class. Jefrrey Glenn Miller, 20, had called his mother to let her know that he felt he had to take part in the protests. Allison Krause, 19, had recently placed a flower in the rifle of a Guardsman at the protest. Ten others were wounded.

The deaths of the Kent State students inspired another wave of student protests across the country, as well as the Neil Young song “Ohio”:

Read a May 1970 report on the Kent State shootings here, in TIME’s archives: Kent State: Martyrdom that Shook the Country

TIME Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Vows to Fight Growing Anti-Semitism

"It pains me when I hear that young Jewish parents ask whether they should raise their children in Germany"

With attacks against Jews on the increase in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged on Sunday to step up the battle against anti-Semitism.

Speaking at a rally in the capital Berlin, she said Germany would do all it could to stop the growth of anti-Semitism, which has risen since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza, reports the BBC.

“It pains me when I hear that young Jewish parents ask whether they should raise their children in Germany, or elderly Jews who ask if it was right to stay. With this rally, we are making it unmistakably clear: Jewish life belongs to us. It is part of our identity and culture,” she said to a crowd of about 5,000 people.

Germany is home to about 200,000 Jews.

The rally, organized by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, comes 75 years after the beginning of World War II, says the BBC. Six million Jews were killed during the conflict.

“The legitimate criticism of the political actions of a government — be it ours or of the state of Israel’s — is fine,” Merkel said. “But if it is only used as a cloak for one’s hatred against other people, hatred for Jewish people, then it is a misuse of our basic rights of freedom of opinion and assembly.”

Since the start of the recent conflict in Gaza, tensions between Muslim and Jewish communities have flared up across Europe. There were 131 anti-Semitic incidents reported in Germany in July, up from 53 in June, Reuters reports the German government as saying.

TIME Hong Kong

No Matter What Beijing Says, Hong Kong Is Ready for Full Democracy

Occupy Central Protesters Rally Against China Vote On Hong Kong Universal Suffrage
Pro-democracy activists gather during a rally organized by activist group Occupy Central With Love and Peace (OCLP) outside the offices of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

A sophisticated, vibrant metropolis of over 7 million people deserves the right to nominate candidates for its top job

In the crowd that gathered on July 1, 2014, to celebrate the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty, Nicholas stood out. The group at government headquarters that day was heavy on umbrella-wielding old-timers; they moved in packs and wore matching T-shirts, like visitors from out of town. Nicholas, meanwhile, was 24 years old. He was standing with friends and wearing a yellow football jersey.

The young sports fan and the older attendees shared at least one thing in common: a distrust for Hong Kong’s democracy movement. While hundreds of thousands gathered across town to denounce the diktats of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), these folks assembled to show their support for the central government in Beijing. Nicholas compared the link between Beijing and Hong Kong to the bond between mother and child. Hong Kong was “throwing a tantrum,” he said, but it would not get its way.

In the weeks that followed, his words stuck with me. It is unusual to meet a young person at staid, pro-establishment events, and rarer still to hear one speak with reverence for Beijing. Hong Kong’s under-25 set is much more visible in the opposition. The main reason I kept thinking back to Nicholas, though, was that his reasoning, and his choice of language, was quickly gaining currency; it echoed all summer through the state-backed press.

Take a read, and you will see what I mean. Recent editorials in the mainland’s major dailies cast the central government as rational and mature, and pro-democracy campaigners as emotional, reckless and adolescent. In one Global Times piece, Hong Kong’s well-planned, peaceful, pro-democracy protests were dismissed as an ineffective and dangerous “clamor.” The central government’s decisions are “legal, fair and reasonable,” according to state news-wire Xinhua; those who oppose their rules are “troublemakers” bent on “sabotage.”

Academics are also in on it. Speaking in Hong Kong on the eve of Beijing’s most recent announcement on political reform, Wang Zhenmin, dean of the law school at Tsinghua University in Beijing, urged Hong Kong to accept a “less perfect” democracy over none at all, according to an account by the New York Times. Calling for patience and trust, he likened Beijing to mother and Hong Kong to child. “The mother always acts in the best interests of her children,” he said. “Her intentions are pure.”

For Beijing, the parent-child metaphor is a rhetorical home run. In one quick, emotionally charged turn, it manages to both intimidate and undercut opponents. We, the parent, have the power, it warns. And that’s a good thing, little one, since you cannot be trusted on your own. The argument is circular, sure. But by the party’s logic, it justifies the decision to keep full democracy from Hong Kong.

Some now wonder if that was the plan all along. When the Union Jack was lowered 17 years ago, the erstwhile British colony was told it would be governed according to a political conceit called “one country, two systems.” Hong Kong would retain its way of life and certain freedoms, but would be beholden, on matters of security, to Beijing. It was never an ideal arrangement, but the city’s democrats believed the “two systems” provision left room for political development.

That space is shrinking year by year, critics say, as the CCP moves to influence politicians, the press and the judiciary. In June more than 800,000 Hong Kong people voted in an unofficial, civil society-backed plebiscite seen as a referendum on reform. Beijing dismissed it. On Sunday, Aug. 31, after months of rallies and debate, China’s legislature ruled out open nominations for the city’s top job. In 2017 the Chief Executive will be elected by Hong Kong voters, but they will be choosing from a list of candidates vetted by Beijing.

To sell the scheme, the central government sent Li Fei, an official from China’s National People’s Congress, to Hong Kong. Li insisted the government’s decision was reasonable, drawing jeers from pro-democracy campaigners in the crowd. He also took a swipe at those who chide Beijing for installing a system at odds with international standards: “The central government is implementing democracy in Hong Kong 17 years after the handover, much faster than what Britain did in its 150 years of rule here,” he said.

The comparison did little to ease the anger of those outside chanting “Shame on the central government.” The former head of Hong Kong’s civil service, Anson Chan, says the decision shows a lack of trust. “For the Hong Kong public there is a deep sense of betrayal and a sense of no more hope,” she told Bloomberg in a television interview. “And from Beijing’s point of view, I think it should be worried because the clear message they’re sending to the Hong Kong people is that ‘We don’t trust you, therefore we must prescreen all the candidates standing for election.'”

The fact is, the people of Hong Kong are absolutely able to chart their own political course. They are witty and well educated, voracious consumers of media and extremely vocal on issues that concern them, from education to conservation to national-security legislation. Hong Kong is not a child, in other words. It is stuck with a priggish parent with no idea how to cope.

TIME Hong Kong

China: No Open Nominations for Hong Kong Leader

Activists Take To The Streets As China Votes On Hong Kong Election Process
Protesters take part in a rally during the beginning of the Occupy Central movement outside the Central Government Offices in Hong Kong on Aug. 31, 2014. Lam Yik Fei—Getty Images

China's legislature on Sunday ruled against allowing open nominations in elections for Hong Kong's leader, a decision that promises to ignite political tensions in the Asian financial hub

Updated: Aug. 31, 2014, 8:40 a.m. E.T.

(BEIJING) — China’s legislature on Sunday ruled out allowing open nominations in inaugural elections for Hong Kong’s leader, saying they would create a “chaotic society.” Democracy activists in the Asian financial hub responded by saying that a long-threatened mass occupation of the heart of the city “will definitely happen.”

The legislature’s powerful Standing Committee said all candidates should be approved by more than half of a special nominating body in order to go before voters. That’s at odds with demands from Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, which staged a massive protest in July to press for genuine democracy in the Chinese territory over fears candidates would continue to be screened to assess their loyalty to Beijing.

Following the committee’s widely expected decision, pro-democracy supporters rallied in a park in front of Hong Kong government headquarters.

Hong Kong has enjoyed substantial political autonomy since returning from British to Chinese rule in 1997, when China’s communist leaders pledged to allow the city’s leader, known as the chief executive, to be eventually elected through “universal suffrage” rather than by the current committee of mostly pro-Beijing tycoons. But China’s growing influence in the city’s affairs has sparked fears that Beijing won’t hold up its end of the bargain.

Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee, told a news conference that openly nominating candidates would create a “chaotic society.”

“These rights come from laws, they don’t come from the sky,” he said. “Many Hong Kong people have wasted a lot of time discussing things that are not appropriate and aren’t discussing things that are appropriate.”

Hong Kong’s most high-profile democracy group, Occupy Central with Love and Peace, immediately announced that a plan to “occupy” the city’s Central business district would go ahead, without specifying a date.

“OCLP has considered occupying Central only as the last resort, an action to be taken only if all chances of dialogue have been exhausted and there is no other choice,” the group said in a statement. “We are very sorry to say that today all chances of dialogue have been exhausted and the occupation of Central will definitely happen.”

Occupy Central has vowed to rally at least 10,000 people for the massive sit-in, which could still be months away because Hong Kong’s government must hold more consultations on Beijing’s guidelines and then formulate a bill to be passed by the city’s legislature. The group urged legislators to vote against it and “start the constitutional reform process all over again.”

Making clear that Chinese leaders intend to tightly control politics in Hong Kong, Li reiterated that candidates for chief executive should be loyal to China’s ruling Communist Party.

“He has to be responsible to Hong Kong and to the central government,” Li said. “If Hong Kong’s chief executive doesn’t love the country and love the party, then that can’t work in one country.”

Under Sunday’s guidelines, Hong Kong’s 5 million eligible voters will be able to vote in 2017 for two to three candidates selected by the 1,200-member nominating committee. Then, the chief executive-elect “will have to be appointed by the Central People’s Government,” the Standing Committee said.

“Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner,” it said.

Willy Lam, an expert on Chinese politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that the requirement that a candidate is supported by more than half of the nomination committee “will rule out a pan-democratic candidate.”

“Only if it’s lowered to 20 percent can a pan-democratic candidate get in,” as there could be enough political diversity in the committee to back a more democratically minded person, Lam said.

Beijing’s announcement comes after a summer of protests and counter-protests that have gripped Hong Kong, including a rally two weeks ago by pro-Beijing activists to denounce Occupy Central as threatening the city’s stability.

Political tensions spiked in June when Chinese officials released a policy “white paper” declaring that Hong Kong’s “high degree of autonomy … comes solely from the authorization by the central leadership.”

Many read the policy paper as asserting Beijing’s dominance of Hong Kong’s affairs and hit the streets and the Internet in protest. Occupy Central drew Beijing’s rebuke by organizing an online referendum that received nearly 800,000 votes on how to pick the city’s chief executive.

On Sunday, organizers of a similar referendum in the neighboring Chinese-controlled city of Macau said 95 percent of 8,688 people had voted in favor of its leader being elected by universal suffrage in 2019. Macau’s incumbent leader, Fernando Chui, was elected to a second five-year term by a Beijing-friendly committee on Sunday.


Associated Press writer Louise Watt contributed to this report.

TIME Fast Food

Burger King Blasted as ‘Traitor’ for Deal That Would Move HQ to Canada

"Order a Whopper w extra tax avoidance and a said of Traitor Tots"

Burger King’s acquisition of Tim Hortons, announced Tuesday, would see the fast food giant move its headquarters from the United States to Canada if the deal goes through. That’s sparked some serious backlash on social media from critics dubbing the company a #traitor and #UnAmerican, as the company would likely wind up paying less in taxes if it were to reincorporate in the Great White North.

Dave Geller, for one, tweeted that his followers should “order a Whopper w extra tax avoidance and a said of Traitor Tots” the next time they’re at Burger King:

Geller is one of many protestors seeing the Warren Buffett-assisted merger as a means to dodge U.S. taxes: (Although Burger King would still have to pay American taxes on domestic U.S. sales.)

Burger King’s Facebook has been flooded with negative comments as well. A recent post on the fast food chain’s Facebook prompting followers to “Say yes to cookies,” for example, is being met with critical responses to “Say ‘NO’ to tax dodgers!” alongside calls for a boycott:

 more dessert please
Burger King

The days of an ecstatic, chicken fries-loving social media frenzy has come to a close.

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