- Posted July 1, 2010 by
Hong Kong, China
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52,000 March for Suffrage in Hong Kong
July 1, 2010
by P H Yang Photography (phyang.org)
Click here for more images.
The searing heat and the first hot weather warning of the year by the Hong Kong Observatory did not dampen the enthusiasm of the 52,000 marchers for democracy and universal suffrage.
In the morning, there were celebrations by the pro-China camp to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China. About 5,000 (down from 40,000 last year) attened and were entertained by dragon dances, music, songs, dances, etc by about 30 performance groups that mostly came from mainland China. Many were attracted by the subsidized low cost (less than HK$100 or US$12) for the entertainment, lunch, drinks and transport package.
In the afternoon, about 100 members of the Democratic Party who joined the annual march were heckled by other marchers who said that the Party had sold out to Beijing with their recent compromise proposal on constitutional reform that was passed on June 25.
It was very hot, both in terms of weather and the mood of the marchers. The mercury hit 33 degree C (92 degree F) under a scorching sun.
The marchers/protesters were unhappy about the minimal progress in democratic reform for the past 13 years after Hong Kong's handover to China. Democratic development, or lack there of, in Hong Kong has been a major issue since the transfer of sovereignty to China in 1997.
Under the principle of "one country, two systems", Hong Kong runs on economic and political systems different from those of mainland China. Hong Kong is one of the world's leading international financial centres, with a major capitalist service economy.
However, unlike it neighbors -- Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore -- and peers in terms of economic development, Hong Kong still does not have democratic elections and universal suffrage.
Some were angry and cursed at the Democratic Party who recently negotiated with Beijing and voted to pass the reform package of the government that included limited deomocratic progress. This created a rare tension amid the pan-democratic camp in this annual march of solidarity against the government. The march remained peaceful despite harsh words like "traitors" and "shameless" were hurled at the Demoncratic Party.
Some protesters sang pro-democracy songs while others made loud noises blowing on their vuvuzela horns, made popular with the World Cup soccer games. As usual, pro-democracy slogans were chanted and many people, including a few in wheelchairs, showed their support by watching on the sideline and cheering the marchers.
The march started at 3:20 pm from Victoria Park where 4 soccer fields where filled to capacity. After about 2 hours marching across town, with the police cordoning off half of the road, the protesters reached the Central Government Offices.
This is the first public march for democracy in Hong Kong after the recent Tectonic shifts in the political landscape given the unprecedented acceptance by Beijing of a limited democratic reform proposal by the Democratic Party.
The large turnout of 52,000, though less than the 76,000 last year, is significant. They are willing to give up their holiday to make their desire heard despite the sweltering heat and the rift amid the pan-democrats.
People in Hong Kong are very serious about their democratic development. The government and Beijing would be wise to heed this.
These are rapidly changing and exciting times for the political landscape of Hong Kong. Whether you agree with it or not, the recent exchanges and compromises between Beijing and the Democratic Party can only be described as historic, unprecedented and Tectonic (seismic) and will have far-reaching consequences for Hong Kong.
Tectonic Political Shifts Amid Pan-Democrats Rift in Hong Kong