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Students Stage Mass Protest In Hong Kong For Democracy

Shoko Oda |
September 24, 2014 | 3:02 p.m. PDT

Web Producer

University students, academics, and non-teaching staff took to the streets in protest. (Global Voices / Twitter)
University students, academics, and non-teaching staff took to the streets in protest. (Global Voices / Twitter)
More than 13,000 tudents from over 20 universities in Hong Kong gathered to protest against the recent electoral reforms imposed by the Chinese government in Beijing. 

READ MORE: Tensions Rise Between China And Hong Kong Over Election Reforms

The ongoing tension between China and Hong Kong surfaced as a result of electoral reforms imposed by the Beijing government on Hong Kong. According to the reforms, only a handful individuals will be allowed to run for the next 2017 elections in Hong Kong; the candidates also require approval from nominating committees, many of which are loyal to Beijing. Students boycotted against classes on Monday, instead taking to the streets despite the heat and humidity.

The protests in Hong Kong marks yet another student-driven movement for democracy, which reminds some of the last major student protest for democracy that took place in 1989 at Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Moreover, recent events have worried some residents about Hong Kong's future prospect. in a recent survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, 21% of 1,006 respondents answered that they were considering emigration.

Some Chinese USC students, like Gianni Chen, expressed concerns over the protests and Hong Kong's ability to choose its leader. 

"I support the decision for Hong Kong to stay free from the Chinese political grip," said Chen, a senior at USC majoring in Business Administration. 

Marcus Mo, a USC alumni who now works in Hong Kong, also expressed support for the movement. 

"It showed that the most important stakeholders of Hong Kong's future finally saw the need to step up and strive for true democracy thmselves," said Mo. 

Chen believes that such concentration of power within the Communist Party of China discourages meritocracy and fosters even more corruption and wealth gap.

"In the end, people with liberal thoughts, whether they are part of academia or not, will flee from the country, which leads to brain drain," argued Chen. "Now apply this to Hong Kong, and if they take off democracy and plant central power in there. It will stagnate." 

Several USC students are currently studying abroad in Hong Kong and have been able to witness the protests unfol in person, like Mo Alabi, a USC senior studying abroad at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Posters and banners calling students to protest have been posted around school campus. (Mo Alabi)
Posters and banners calling students to protest have been posted around school campus. (Mo Alabi)
"It's clear that the class boycott and rpotests have been well thought out and well planned," says Alabi. "They are very aware of what democracy means and are very adamant about making sure they are heard." 

Though the mass media sources have reported of the large scale student protests, Mo noted that the current protests have not exactly interrupted other's lives. 

"The boycott movement was limited to the park right next to the government headquarters, and while there's a lot of people there, it's out of the ay and doesn't interrupt anyone's life," says Mo. 

There have been few cases of clashes between the police and the protestors, says Mo. 

"It's partly because the police are becoming more and more brutal, and partly because some of the protestors are getting more and more aggressive." 

However, Alabi notes that protests will expand once the larger movement, Occupy Central, begin next week. 

"It's moreso that students held a huge rally on Monday and have been sitting in the governemtn district and at public parks since," mentions Alabi. "Occupy Central, which is the all inclusive protest, starts next week. This one is leading up to it."  

But will the student-led movement be able to nudge the Beijing government to their advantage? Mo does not believe so, but still believes it is a "good start". 

"I don' think the class boycott would have any impact on either the Hong Kong government or Beijing's position with regards to universal suffrage," says Mo. "But it's a good way to start a large-scale civil disobedience campaign." 

The international community will be tuned in to witness how the controversy unfolds in Hong Kong, as Occupy Central movement kicks off officially next week. 

Reach Web Producer Shoko Oda here



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