Words by Emma Vlatko
Just days after the Hong Kong Government cancelled formal negotiations with student activists, forcing over 10,000 pro-democracy supports back onto the city’s streets, the first attempt has been made to put an end to the demonstrations.
On Monday the 13th of October, Hong Kong authorities tried to clear protest barricades in the Admiralty area, one of the main sit-in sites. The failed attempt resulted in violent scuffles with student protesters and frustrated Hong Kong commuters.
“I think they were testing us,” Jason Chan, a 20-year-old Hong Kong University student, told the LA Times.
Protests began in mid-September after China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress announced electoral reforms to be put in place for the upcoming 2016/2017 Hong Kong elections.
The reforms mean that the candidates for Chief Executive will be selected by an election committee rather than civil nomination, effectively preventing any pro-democracy candidates from running. Furthermore, any new Chief Executive voted in would not be officially recognised until given full approval by the Chinese Central Government.
Pro-democracy protesters have labelled the changes “a betrayal of the basic principle of one person, one vote.” They have vowed to veto the changes and are demanding for the resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive, CY Leung.
Whilst for the most part, the Hong Kong Government have ignored the demonstrations, authorities have warned they will take whatever actions necessary to control the demonstrations if they get out of hand.
“To restore order,” police spokesperson Steve Hui says, “we are determined and we are confident we have the capability to take any necessary action.”
In light of the latest scuffles, protest leaders are urging their supporters to remain peaceful, “we also ask you to stand by the principle of nonviolent disobedience in the face of the police’s clearance. We believe that the success of the movement hinges on our perseverance in the spirit of democracy, love and peace.”
But even if the protesters remain peaceful, it’s clear the Hong Kong and Chinese Governments are quickly losing their patience, and that it’ll only be a matter of time until this impasse ends.