TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Youth Are Venting Economic as Well as Political Frustration

APTOPIX Hong Kong Democracy Protest
Kin Cheung—AP A pro-democracy protester sleeps on a roadside in the occupied areas near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Oct. 6, 2014

Stale wage levels, high property prices and business cronyism have angered many turning up at the Occupy Central protests

This being Hong Kong, one of the most iconic faces of the past 10 days of pro-democracy protests has been that of a Piaget watch.

Ringed with gems, the watch has kept fixed time on a massive billboard above the protests in Harcourt Road, where the Occupy Central movement has brought the thoroughfare’s usual flow of trucks and taxis, and of goods and shoppers, to a standstill. It is an incongruous backdrop to black-clad protesters and the raised fists of their leaders.

Hong Kong is full of images of wealth. While the protests here have been mostly political — demonstrators want to be able to freely nominate and vote for the city’s leader, instead of choosing from a list of candidates screened by Beijing — they also have an economic component, reflecting the struggles of the city’s squeezed middle class.

“We don’t see good prospects for our future,” said Katie Lo, 21, a university student pursuing a degree in social work and the daughter of two office workers.

Sitting against a median divider in Harcourt Road on a cool Monday morning, Lo listed her chief grievances: wages are low and rents are high. She wonders, she said, how she and her boyfriend will afford to move out of their parents’ homes and rent a place together.

“Over the years we’ve had a lot of rallies to solve all these social problems, but the government is not elected by us, so they do not listen,” she said. “I want a government that listens to me.”

The candidates for Hong Kong’s next top leader — who has the fittingly boardroom-like title of “chief executive” — are set to be vetted by an electoral committee perceived as loyal to two allied groups: China’s ruling Communist Party and Hong Kong’s financial elite.

“Hong Kong is in a bind: the economy is dominated by a few tycoons closely affiliated with the aristocratic families of the mainland regime and with the mainland regime’s Hong Kong puppet regime,” says Carsten Holz, an economics professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, in an email to TIME.

Indeed, to the protesters pitching tents in Hong Kong’s streets, a committee flush with red capitalists and oligarchs is all but certain to put up a list of chief-executive candidates disinterested in fixing worsening social ills here: rising property values, middling wages, and a sense that good jobs are best won through nepotism and cronyism, not ability.

“The nominating committee is not going to allow someone who promises a redistribution of wealth to get elected,” says David Zweig, a professor of politics at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

“But the chief executive has an enormous amount of power, and the legislature has almost no power,” he says. “So, if you’re going to overcome all these social injustices, you’re going to have to elect a chief executive who is in touch with the majority of the people.”

Hong Kong’s protesters are mostly young — a flyer passed out in the protests one recent evening urged volunteers to donate not just food, but specifically “biscuits, chocolates preferred.” They are also mostly middle class, the sons and daughters of bank managers and teachers, and they aspire to have at least what their parents’ have, if not more.

But that’s not guaranteed: “Where has my dream city gone?” as one sign posted around protest sites puts it.

Hong Kong’s Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, went from index 0.518 in 1996 to 0.537 in 2011, according to government figures, giving Hong Kong the highest level of income inequality in the developed world. (The Gini index in the U.S., home to Occupy Wall Street, was 0.477 in 2011, according to U.S. census data.)

“The young people of Hong Kong are very worried that the Hong Kong their parents knew is not going to be the Hong Kong to which they grow up,” says Zweig.

A top concern is Hong Kong’s real estate market. The government owns almost all the land, and it is widely perceived as favoring high-end developers in leasing it. Those builders are seen as trotting out tiny properties for millions of dollars, and, if rich buyers — largely from China’s mainland — seem undaunted, listing the next offering for even more.

But as housing prices have gone up, real wages have remained flat. Properties here are the least affordable in the world, with the median home costing 14.9 times the median household income in 2013, according to a Demographia International Housing Affordability report. Plus, homes in Hong Kong are on average the smallest of the studied housing markets, the report said.

The housing problem is also getting worse: The South China Morning Post reported last month that average housing prices reached an all-time high in July — the third consecutive month that prices had set a new record. This summer, it cost an average of $652,475 to buy a 431-sq.-ft. flat on Hong Kong Island.

“The young people feel helpless,” says Paul Yip, a professor of social work at the University of Hong Kong, adding that fresh college graduates expect to spend at least a decade living with their parents before saving enough to get a flat of their own.

Meanwhile, the Economist this spring ranked Hong Kong No. 1 in its “crony capitalism index,” out of 23 economies where the magazine said politics and business had their hands deep in each other’s pockets. Indeed, when student demonstrators first walked out of classes two weeks ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping was meeting in Beijing with about 70 of Hong Kong’s biggest tycoons, whom he called “old friends.”

“The protesters see the collusion between the government and the business sector,” says Michael Davis, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong. “And they think, if we could choose our leader, we could end that collusion.”

That’s the hope of Sunny Cheung, 18, a university student who was skipping class for a second week on Monday to sit at Causeway Bay’s protest camp. Protesters there had a week earlier put up a sign that said: “Hong Kong Is Controlled by the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] and the Capitalists.”

“The wealthy control all of Hong Kong,” said Cheung.

TIME Syria

ISIS Has Entered the Key Syrian Border Town of Kobani

Despite the help of U.S.-led air strikes, Kurdish fighters could not prevent the Sunni militants from closing in

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) entered Kobani on the Syria-Turkey border Monday, after intense street fighting with Kurdish forces trying to defend the Syrian town, the BBC reports.

The Sunni militant extremists raised their black flags on several buildings, after pushing into three neighborhoods in the east of the city, also known as Ayn al-Arab.

Kobani has been besieged for three weeks, and more than 160,000 civilians have fled to the Turkish border.

ISIS fighters pushed through the defenses of the Syrian-Kurdish troops with tanks and artillery, killing many in street battles. The militants now have control of Mistenur, a key hill above the town, the BBC says.

“They have surrounded us almost from every side with their tanks. They have been shelling the city with heavy weapons. Kurdish fighters are resisting as much as they can with the limited weapons they have,” Asya Abdullah, a senior Kurdish politician and co-leader of the Democratic Union Party, told the BBC.

If the ISIS militants take control of Kobani, they will have a huge strategic corridor along the Turkish border, linking with the terrorist group’s positions in Aleppo to the west and Raqqa to the east.

Heavy clashes between ISIS fighters and Kurdish defenders raged all of Monday and over the weekend but despite the help of U.S.-led air strikes, the militants managed to close in on Kobani.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says he will do everything he can to save the people living in the border town.

“We will do everything possible to help the people of Kobani because they are our brothers and sisters. We don’t see them as Kurds or Turkmen or Arabs.”

He added that “if there is a need of intervention to Kobani,” then “there is a need of intervention [in] all Syria.”

For the past week, tanks belonging to the Turkish Armed Forces have been positioned on the hills close to Kobani in order to reinforce the border.

But many Turkish Kurds and refugees have slammed Ankara for not doing enough to defeat ISIS, which is now knocking on Turkey’s front door.

TIME Hong Kong

Tensions Ease in Hong Kong as Student Leaders and Government Agree to Talks

Hong Kong Protests Calm
Ed Jones—AFP/Getty Images A pro-democracy protester watches the sunrise from an empty road in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong early on Oct. 7, 2014.

Meeting will be held with the Hong Kong government's No. 2 official, Carrie Lam

The leadership of Hong Kong’s democracy movement agreed to engage in formal dialogue with the government on Monday night, after the ninth day of protests began with protesters visibly flagging from their prolonged occupation of three key areas of the city.

Representatives from the two student groups leading the protests — Scholarism and the Hong Kong Federation of Students — engaged in a second round of preliminary talks with a government official late Monday, Agence France-Presse reported.

“We hope there will be mutual respect shown during the meeting,” said Ray Lau, undersecretary of constitutional and mainland affairs. Lau is set to meet with the student leaders again on Tuesday, to set a time and place for talks with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, the deputy of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

The students have refused to meet with Leung. They have been calling for his ouster as well as for the right to choose his successor through free elections.

A few hundred protesters remained Monday at the sit-ins in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and across the harbor in Mong Kok, as some schools in affected areas reopened and most people went back to work as normal. Civil servants were granted access to the Central Government Offices, which has been besieged by demonstrators since Sept. 27.

The protest sites were still occupied Tuesday, with the situation calm. In the financial district, office workers presented an uncommon sight as they mingled with protesters and enjoyed their lunch breaks amid the silence and freshness of barricaded streets that are free, for once, of cars and choking fumes.

TIME conflict

India and Pakistan Clash Over Kashmir After Peace Talks Falter

Relatives of Rajesh Kumar, who was killed in mortar shell firing allegedly from the Pakistan's side, weep inside their residential house at Masha da kothe village, in Arnia Sector near the India-Pakistan international border, about 30 miles)from Jammu, India, on Monday.
Channi Anand—AP Relatives of Rajesh Kumar, who was killed in mortar shell firing allegedly from Pakistan's side, weep inside their house at Masha Da Kothe village, near the India-Pakistan border, about 30 miles from Jammu, India, on Oct. 6, 2014

Hope for long-term peace unraveled after India called off a round of talks last month

Tens of thousands of villagers have fled their homes in Kashmir amid some of the worst violence between India and Pakistan since a 2003 cease-fire agreement.

Shelling from both sides that began on Friday has killed at least nine civilians, Reuters reports. Both sides have accused each other of starting the clashes, which coincide with the Eid al-Adha festival for Muslims in both countries.

Newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised expectations for a warming of ties between the two countries when he invited Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration in May. But Modi called off peace talks last month because Pakistan planned to meet with Kashmiri separatists.

The two countries have fought three wars over the disputed region, and Muslim separatists have targeted Indian forces since 1989.

Thousands of people from Indian villages along the border have been evacuated to government shelters and underground bunkers, the Associated Press reports. Authorities in Pakistan say four civilians, including two children and a woman, have been killed in the clashes. An Indian official said five people were killed by Pakistani shelling.


TIME Military

Jihadist Bullets Are Often Made in the USA

CAR These four rifle cartridges were made in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 at the U.S.-government owned Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Mo., before falling into ISIS hands, according to a new report.

Survey of cartridges in the field reveals ISIS militants are using ammo sourced from China, the former Soviet Union — and the U.S.

Not only are the militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) tooling around their new “state” in U.S.-built vehicles recently plundered from the Iraqi army, but many of the bullets they’re firing come from the U.S. as well.

The news suggests just how fluid the battlefield straddling Iraq and Syria has become—and how efforts by other nations to help both beleaguered states can boomerang as their ammo often falls into enemy hands.

A private arms-tracing group vacuumed up more than 1,700 ISIS rounds in the Kurdish regions of northern Iraq and Syria from July 22 to Aug. 15. Nearly one of every five examined by experts from the independent Conflict Armament Research was manufactured in the U.S., according to a report released Monday by the group.

ISIS “forces appear to have acquired a large part of their current arsenal from stocks seized from, or abandoned by, Iraqi defence and security forces,” said the London-based CAR, a nonprofit research organization funded by the European Union. “The U.S. gifted much of this materiel to Iraq.”

CAR used stampings on the bottom of the cartridges—almost like fingerprints—to track their source.

CARHere’s where the cartridges collected by researchers were manufactured.

The variety and age of the ammo used by ISIS fighters shows they have multiple means of supply. “China, the Soviet Union/Russian Federation, and the United States (US) are the top three manufacturing states represented in the sample,” CAR reported. “Ammunition in service with Iraqi and Syrian defence forces is also significant in the sample.”

CAR documented more than 300 U.S.-manufactured cartridges used by ISIS, mostly made between 2000 and 2010. Russian ammo was much newer—“as little as seven months from manufacture in Russia to capture from [ISIS] forces in Syria,” the group says. “Syrian defence forces are a plausible source of this ammunition.” At the other end of the timetable, CAR found a single Soviet cartridge dating back to 1945, the last year of World War II.

Most of the cartridges recovered in Syria were 30 years old and of Chinese and Soviet manufacture. “By contrast, the sample of ammunition recovered in Iraq is mainly U.S.-manufactured and comprises 5.56 x 45 mm cartridges,” CAR’s 16-page field report said. That’s the type “used in U.S.-supplied M16 and M4 assault rifles of the Iraqi defence and security forces.”

TIME Germany

Angela Merkel Savaged by Helmut Kohl, the Architect of United Germany

Wolfgang Kumm—AFP/Getty Images Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and German Chancellor Angela Merkel sit in the first row at the German Historical Museum in Berlin on Sept. 27, 2012.

The former German Chancellor believes one-time protégé Merkel "has no idea" about European politics, a controversial new biography reveals

Angela Merkel, western Europe’s longest serving and most influential leader, was elected to a third term in office last year and her popularity among German voters remains startlingly high. But not everybody, it seems, feels the love.

It has emerged that Helmut Kohl, himself a former Chancellor of Germany, the architect of German reunification and in 1991 TIME’s runner-up as Man of the Year (to George H. W. Bush), once said that when it comes to the intricate politics of Europe, his former protégé “has no idea.”

Kohl threw in a few more barbs too. Merkel, who grew up in East Germany and has never entirely absorbed the polish and formality of West German high society, “couldn’t even eat properly with a knife and fork,” Kohl told an interviewer in the early 2000s. “She mooched around so much at state dinners that I often had to call her to order.”

These comments and Kohl’s similarly ripe views of several other colleagues in Germany’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) may never have been intended for publication. They are included in “Vermächtnis: die Kohl-Protokolle” (Legacy: the Kohl Transcripts), a biography of Kohl based on more than 600 hours of conversations with Heribert Schwan, a journalist originally contracted to ghostwrite Kohl’s memoir.

But after Kohl dismissed Schwan—who blames the influence of Kohl’s second wife, Maike Kohl-Richter, 34 years Kohl’s junior, for his sudden 2009 ouster—Schwan used the recordings to co-author an unauthorized biography with a writer called Tilman Jens, despite Kohl’s victory last month in a court tussle over copyright of the tapes. Media reports in Germany have suggested Kohl—now a frail 84-year-old with limited powers of speech since suffering a head injury in a 2008 fall—will attempt to block the book’s release, but he has not issued an explicit denial of his remarks.

The book will be published in Germany this week and is previewed in the new issue of the German news weekly Der Spiegel. The interviews with Kohl took place between 2001 and 2002, a period of tragedy and turbulence for the politician. Kohl’s first wife Hannelore killed herself as the former Chancellor battled to salvage his reputation in the aftermath of a scandal over CDU party funding. Merkel almost certainly earned Kohl’s enduring ire by helping to force his resignation from the CDU presidency in 2000, urging the party to move on without its “old warhorse” (her words) to rebuild popularity after the scandal. She may not have chosen the most respectful term to describe Kohl, who in 1991 installed her as a minister in the first government of reunited Germany. Then again, he famously patronized Merkel, often referring her as “das Mädchen,” the girl. Nobody, least of all the wily Merkel, will have been blindsided by the revelation that Kohl continues to nurse a grudge against her.

The bigger surprise is how Kohl saw the man he often hailed as a friend, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last President of the Soviet Union, named TIME’s Man of the Decade in 1990 for his role in ending the Cold War. In Kohl’s estimation, if Gorbachev was a hero, it was only of the accidental kind. “Gorbachev looked over the books and realized all was lost and the regime couldn’t survive,” Kohl told Schwan. “And if he wanted to preserve Communism, he had to reform it, so he came up with the idea of Perestroika… He dissolved Communism, partly against his will, but he did dissolve it. Without violence. Without bloodshed. There wasn’t much more to his legacy than that.”

Kohl will have had an eye on his own legacy as he spilled his innermost thoughts to Schwan. The manner of their publication, unvarnished and without the pruning Kohl might have preferred, will certainly shape historians’ views of the architect of German reunification. He may have united his country, but he remains, even in retirement, a divisive figure.


TIME United Kingdom

Queen Elizabeth Awards Michael Bloomberg an Honorary Knighthood

Michael Bloomberg Decorated In  Paris
Chesnot—Getty Images Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg poses prior to be awarded with the Legion d'Honneur by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Sept. 16, 2014 in Paris.

Hizzoner receives an honor

Queen Elizabeth II has made former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg an “honorary” knight of the British realm, in recognition of his work strengthening the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K.

“As Mayor of New York, as a businessman, and as a philanthropist, Mike Bloomberg has played a key role in forging transatlantic diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties,” said British Ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott in a statement.

He also credited Bloomberg with helping to create thousands of jobs in the UK by making London the European headquarters of Bloomberg LLP, and noted that the multi-billionaire has committed more than £42.4 million ($67.8 million) of philanthropic contributions in in the U.K.

Bloomberg accepted the honorary title, saying he considers Britain a “second home.”

The former mayor isn’t the first American to receive an honorary knighthood (only British nationals can receive the full honor). His predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, also accepted the honor, as did Steven Spielberg and Bill Gates. Hollywood star Angelina Jolie was made an honorary dame in July.

Sadly, Bloomberg will not get a sword, chain mail, or the handkerchief of a teary damsel. But thanks to him, swords are probably banned in New York City, anyway.

TIME Terrorism

American ISIS Hostage: ‘I’m Pretty Scared to Die’

Islamic State Hostage Peter Kassig
AP This undated photo provided by Kassig Family shows Peter Kassig standing in front of a truck filled with supplies for Syrian refugees.

An Army Ranger-turned-aid worker held hostage by ISIS militants in Syria admitted to his parents he was “pretty scared to die” but also urged them to “seek refuge and comfort” from his humanitarian work.

Abdul-Rahman Kassig — who was born Peter but changed his name when he converted to Islam last year — wrote in a letter received by his parents on June 2 he was “praying every day” in captivity but was “not angry.” He added: “I am in a dogmatically complicated situation here, but I am at peace with my belief.”

Excerpts from his heartfelt letter were released in a statement late Sunday by his parents…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME brazil

Brazil’s Tight Presidential Election Is Headed for a Runoff

First Round Presidential Elections Held In Brazil
Mario Tama—Getty Images Brazilians wait in line to enter a polling station in the Rocinha favela in Rio de Janeiro on the day of the presidential election on Oct. 5, 2014

Leftist incumbent President Dilma Rousseff took the top spot in the first round but failed to get an overall majority

Brazil’s presidential election is headed for a runoff after incumbent President Dilma Rousseff took the top spot in the first-round on Sunday but failed to get the majority needed to win overall.

Rousseff, of the leftist Workers’ Party, won 41.4% of the vote in the tight race, riding the success of her social-welfare programs, the Guardian reports. She will duel with Aécio Neves, of Brazil’s pro-business Social Democratic party, who took 33.7% of the vote in a last-minute and unexpected surge.

The first round of the election closes an agonizing campaign season full of unexpected flips and flops, including one candidate’s death in a plane crash, another’s homophobic rant, and another candidate’s ties to a massive oil scandal.

The coming election — a squaring off between Brazil’s established left and the right — will be a disappointment to voters who had backed third candidate Marina Silva, a former Environment Minister who had at one point led the polls.

Rousseff is projected to win in the coming runoff, though Neves may further harness resentment toward the incumbent administration for continued sluggish economic growth, the New York Times reports. Silva may also choose to throw her weight behind Neves, the Guardian adds.

TIME Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Protests Have Given Rise to a New Political Generation

However the Occupy Central protests end, it is clear that Hong Kong's smart, determined and peaceful young people have finally found their political power

Dawn in Hong Kong would break in little more than an hour, and the young men at the barricades early on Oct. 6 were nervous. A 25-year-old tech executive’s eyes filled with tears, and he clenched his jaw. Rumors, they said, had mysterious men in black shirts amassing in a restaurant in the Wanchai district, just down the deserted avenue from the roadblocks that members of Hong Kong’s protest movement had set up more than a week before.

The stretch on Queensway, in the shadow of government offices, the High Court, and a shopping mall, was empty save the few jittery barricade defenders and a fellow protester who snoozed on a wooden plank. Two of the men had wrapped their hands in towels they hoped might protect their knuckles from whatever violence might come their way.

“We don’t know what will happen,” said the 25-year-old, peering east into the dark toward Wanchai. “But we are scared.”

The men in black shirts did not materialize. Nor did the police. Despite a vow from Hong Kong’s top leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, to clear major streets for the beginning of the workweek, the Hong Kong protest movement still occupies major commercial areas in the Asian financial capital. By daybreak on Monday, the number of journalists and protest tourists prowling the main demonstration site in Admiralty almost outnumbered the remaining protesters. Still, the barricades, set up to defend a movement demanding democratic commitments from the Chinese central government, held.

“I choose to stand up,” says Jennifer Wong, a 17-year-old high school student from the New Territories, near the border with mainland China. “Maybe [the movement] will not work in the end, but we will regret it if we don’t try.”

Protest leaders, from the three main groups that had banded together to establish this democratic crusade 10 days ago, strategized throughout Sunday as Leung’s ultimatum to disperse loomed. Powwows took place in the quiet halls of the Legislative Council building, where two of the protest blocs had set up makeshift command headquarters. But it was not clear who had the authority to negotiate on behalf of the protesters (or wanted to exercise that power), nor was it apparent who formally represented the government’s side. “The beauty of the movement is that there is no leader,” said one adviser to the Occupy Central group, which kick-started the peaceful siege that has drawn tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents, many of them young and middle class. “But that’s also its flaw.”

Outside the Legco building, dozens of protesters tended to their encampments, accepting donations of drinking water or adjusting pieces of cardboard that served as both bedroom and living room. Some had been there since the beginning and had clear demands: the resignation of Chief Executive Leung, who is considered the central government’s proxy in Hong Kong, and a rollback of Beijing’s plan to prevent the territory’s voters from directly electing their leader in 2017. Others had joined the protest movement later, shocked into action by the aggressive tactics that had been used to try to break up the rallies, including police tear gas and thuggery from elements linked to Hong Kong’s triad mafia.

It’s clear that the protesters are joined in their anger toward Beijing, which they feel is degrading the liberties that make Hong Kong a unique city in China, such as an independent judiciary and media. (When the former British colony was returned to China in 1997, the outpost was promised a high degree of autonomy for 50 years under a formulation called “one country, two systems.”) For the demonstrators, Leung is also a vilified character, maligned as much for his Beijing yes-man reputation as for the decision to unleash tear gas and pepper spray on the protesters on Sept. 28. But unity of message doesn’t necessarily mean that the protesters are falling in line behind a certain individual who can carry the movement forward.

“We all want the same thing,” says Daisy Lee, a 33-year-old clerk. “But we’re not here because we support one person or one group.” Lee worries that the diffuse nature of the rallies could undercut their ultimate effectiveness. “I’ve spent so many hours here,” she says. “But none of the so-called trio of groups has come to talk to us. Are they communicating with each other? We don’t know. We need strong leadership.”

Already, certain demands from protest leaders have gone unheeded by the rank and file, like a call from student activists to consolidate and abandon a satellite protest site across Victoria Harbour. On Sunday afternoon, a message went out from the Occupy group announcing that protesters had pulled back from a picket at the entrance to the chief executive’s office. But as night fell, students and other youth, surrounded by the inevitable journalist hordes, maintained their vigil at that precise point.

On Monday morning, the diehards that remained stood by as civil servants trooped in to work. Crisis had been averted and ultimatums or conditions from both sides were politely ignored. Throughout Monday, more talks were to take place between the myriad players in this unlikely movement. From a scorecard perspective, the protesters had prevailed the night before by peacefully defying the government’s order to cease and desist. But it’s still hard to see what significant political concessions they can wrest from Beijing, which has been churning out articles and cartoons in the state-run media both deriding and assailing their civil disobedience. Conciliatory moves by Chinese President Xi Jinping could make his administration look weak, and he has not given the impression of a leader enamored by the art of compromise.

As the workweek began in Hong Kong and traffic snarled because of the protest roadblocks, patience from a sector of ordinary citizens may wear thin. Already, some Hong Kong residents were quietly criticizing the continuing shutdown of major business and tourist areas. “Of course I support more democracy for Hong Kong and am not opposed to [the protesters’] ideals,” said a woman surnamed Liu, who came with her 11-year-old son to look at the occupied site in Mongkok district. “But we need to eat, to do business. How can we do that when they take over the streets?”

Whatever happens, Hong Kong’s political consciousness has been awakened. Emily Lau, a veteran local legislator, jokes that she’s been labeled “a head-banger” for her decades of pro-democracy work. “It’s very invigorating to have such a spontaneous, peaceful movement full of young people,” she says. “Once people have been shown their power they will know how to use it again and again.”

Lau could well be talking about Tanson Tsui, a high school student with a backpack full of English homework who was camped out at the entrance to the chief executive’s office on Sunday night. Tsui was born in 1997, the year the British handed Hong Kong back to China. “I came here because of myself,” he said. “I am not following anyone, I have no leader. I will fight to the end because I am Hong Kongese and I have to protect my home.”

With reporting by Zoher Abdoolcarim / Hong Kong

— Video by Helen Regan / Hong Kong

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