World

Protests Predicted As China Limits Hong Kong Elections

Beijing announced Sunday elections in Hong Kong would be limited to government-approved candidates, a move that looks to spark protests on the island.

Protests Predicted As China Limits Hong Kong Elections
Getty Images

In the wake of a decision by Chinese authorities to limit elections in Hong Kong, the former British colony looks set for a new wave of pro-democracy protests.  

Chinese officials announced on Sunday that the central government in Beijing will screen candidates for what was meant to be a democratically elected position, Hong Kong's chief executive,. And this has angered activists. (Video via CCTV)

Those pro-democracy activists had pushed for open elections over the past months through rallies, with a group called Occupy Central leading many of the protests. (Video via Voice of America)

Hong Kong has generally enjoyed a higher degree of autonomy than mainland China. With this latest decision from the government it seems less a question of whether there will be protests and more how large will those protests be?

Guaranteeing Hong Kong's democracy was one of Beijing's central promises ahead of the UK's handover of the island to China in 1997. (Video via CNN)

DAMIAN GRAMMATICAS, BBC: "So I think we're going to see protests growing in the coming days and weeks ... Tens, hundreds, of thousands of people are very actively engaged in this debate, and already this evening there's a small protest in Hong Kong." 

And it seems some outlets are ready for the protests, with The New York Times predicting, "a showdown with a protest movement unlike any it has ever faced on the mainland."

For its part, the Chinese government has pointed to the fact that Hong Kong residents will at least have the right to vote, even if the candidates are handpicked. That's more than residents of mainland China can say. (Video via ABC Australia)

And predictably, Chinese officials have lauded the move. The state-run news agency Xinhua reports one official called it, "vital for steadily developing democracy in Hong Kong."

The government's decision is more overt than many of China's reported tactics to crack down on pro-democracy activists. 

A writer for CBC compares those tactics, which have focused on some high-profile democracy supporters, to the mafia behavior of films like The Godfather. "The raid on the home of a media tycoon who is an outspoken supporter of Hong Kong's democracy movement ... was a message as clear as the horse's head studio boss Jack Woltz found in his bed."

The elections for that post of Hong Kong Chief Executive are set to be held in 2017.