Clare Baldwin http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin Clare Baldwin's Profile Mon, 09 Nov 2015 10:00:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 Marriott, Alitrip tie-up to let Chinese travellers book online http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/09/marriott-alibaba-china-idUSL1N13405M20151109?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/11/09/marriott-alitrip-tie-up-to-let-chinese-travellers-book-online/#comments Mon, 09 Nov 2015 09:30:26 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/?p=1184 HONG KONG, Nov 9 (Reuters) – U.S.-based hotel chain Marriott
International Inc and Alibaba Group’s online
travel booking platform announced a tie-up on Monday, joining a
flurry of rivals expanding their presence in China to cater to
the country’s growing upper-middle class.

China’s economy is forecast to slow to roughly 6.5 percent
growth in coming years, but companies such as Alibaba Group
Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd promise direct
access to the country’s middle class and what Marriott Asia
Pacific head Craig Smith is calling a “land grab” for Chinese
travellers.

“People talk about China slowing down but there is a growing
middle class and that creates opportunities for companies like
us,” Smith said. “It is the most important market for us outside
of the United States and it will continue to be.”

China’s growing middle class is boosting domestic and
outbound travel and sparking a spate of travel-related deals.

Marriott’s deal announced on Monday is a commission-based
tie-up with Alitrip that allows customers to book rooms with
their mobile phones. It follows a September deal with an Alibaba
affiliate allowing Marriott customers to settle their bills with
Alipay, a Paypal-like payments service.

Smith declined to say how much the hotel chain will save on
Alitrip bookings compared with online travel agents such as
Expedia Inc, but said Alitrip is “a very lucrative
channel”.

The number of outbound Chinese tourists is expected to
double to 200 million by the end of this decade, according to a
study by Hong Kong-based brokerage CLSA. The study forecast
domestic tourism would decline slightly in the coming years, but
it is still booming.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics showed a rise of 72
percent in domestic tourism in the five years to 2013, the most
recent data available. Earnings from domestic tourism rose even
more dramatically during that period, up 158 percent to 2.6
trillion yuan ($409 billion).

Marriott is not alone in trying to take advantage of online
platforms to capitalize on Chinese travellers.

In August, Chinese vacation rental company Tujia raised $300
million to expand its business overseas and Chinese developer
Fantasia Holdings Group launched its own vacation
rental business similar to Airbnb Inc and HomeAway Inc.

Airbnb, which said the number of outbound Chinese travellers
using its service grew 700 percent in the past year, said it was
partnering with China Broadband Capital and Sequoia China to
build its China business.
($1 = 6.3592 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Clare Baldwin; Editing by Muralikumar
Anantharaman)

]]>
http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/11/09/marriott-alitrip-tie-up-to-let-chinese-travellers-book-online/feed/ 0
Hong Kong court extends press gag in test case for freedoms http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/06/us-hongkong-freedom-idUSKCN0SV1CR20151106?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/11/06/hong-kong-court-extends-press-gag-in-test-case-for-freedoms/#comments Fri, 06 Nov 2015 11:07:09 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/?p=1182 HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Hong Kong judge on Friday extended a press gag order in a case involving one of Asia’s top universities, renewing concerns about press freedom in the Chinese-controlled city in the wake of last year’s pro-democracy protests.

The injunction, initiated by the chairman of Hong Kong University’s governing council, bans media from reporting on the council’s closed-door meetings, after members voted in September not to promote a former law school dean, despite him having been the sole nominee for the post.

The decision was widely perceived as political interference. A student member of the council broke his confidentiality agreement to summarize what had been said in the meeting and by whom, and secret recordings of the meeting were leaked to a local broadcaster.

The court retained the press gag but said it only applied to council meetings between June 30 and the date of the injunction on Oct. 30. The gag order had previously applied to all council meetings.

The case is due to resume on November 24.

The Hong Kong Journalists’ Association condemned the injunction, saying it was a test case for Hong Kong’s freedoms.

“We hope the injunction order can be entirely removed,” HKJA chairwoman Sham Yee-lan said. “This is related to Hong Kong’s core values, the freedom of speech and freedom of press.”

For more than a century, Hong Kong University has served as a bastion of liberal education in the city that returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, producing many of its top politicians, bureaucrats and lawyers.

Hong Kong’s constitution guarantees the financial enclave a high degree of autonomy denied in mainland China by its Communist leaders, including academic freedom, broad individual rights and an independent judiciary.

Liberals see the blocked appointment as part of a broad move to limit academic freedom at an institution whose students and academics played a big role in 79 days of protests last year that saw thousands take to the streets demanding full democracy.

(Reporting by Clare Baldwin and Stella Tsang; Editing by Nick Macfie)

]]>
http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/11/06/hong-kong-court-extends-press-gag-in-test-case-for-freedoms/feed/ 0
HK’s leaders doomed to fail without reforms, says pro-China lawmaker http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/11/us-hongkong-politics-idUSKCN0S500G20151011?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/10/11/hks-leaders-doomed-to-fail-without-reforms-says-pro-china-lawmaker/#comments Sun, 11 Oct 2015 00:26:15 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/?p=1180 HONG KONG (Reuters) – A leading pro-Beijing politician in Hong Kong said future leaders of the global financial hub face a grim prospect unless lawmakers and Beijing end their impasse over political reform.

Lawmakers in the Chinese-controlled city recently vetoed a proposal to hold public elections for Hong Kong’s top political leader, the chief executive, after China insisted that only pre-screened, pro-Beijing candidates be allowed to stand.

That veto had followed months of pro-democracy protests that shut down major roads and posed one of the biggest challenges to China’s Communist Party leadership in decades.

“If you don’t change the system, you can only expect similar people to take the post in the coming years and they will be faced with the same problems,” Jasper Tsang, the president of Hong Kong’s legislative council and founder of its largest pro-Beijing party, said in an interview with Reuters.

The comments come after former chief executive Donald Tsang was charged on Oct. 5 with misconduct.

Tsang is one of three chief executives to have run Hong Kong since Britain handed the city back to Chinese rule in 1997, and all three have proved unpopular, underscoring Beijing’s struggle to find a credible and acceptable leader for the former colony.

“It will be even more difficult for the chief executive in 2017 to establish a minimum degree of legitimacy,” Tsang said, calling the prospects for that person “gloomy” and “grim”.

The next chief executive is due to be chosen in 2017.

“We must be able to break the vicious circle…A weak government makes it very difficult for the bureaucrats, for the officials to really achieve and win respect from the public.”

Tsang said Beijing’s proposal to move towards full democracy in stages showed that it was sensitive to dissatisfaction at governance in the city. However, it was important to avoid a “revolution” by jumping from the old colonial system to free elections, he added.

He did not offer specific ideas for a compromise between Beijing and Hong Kong’s democrats.

Britain returned Hong Kong to China under a “one country, two systems” deal which aimed to ensure that the city’s freedoms and independent judiciary would remain for 50 years.

    In a major embarrassment for Beijing, Hong Kong’s legislative council in June vetoed its conditions for universal suffrage. That means the chief executive will be again selected in 2017 without a popular vote.   

    The post is critical to Beijing’s rule over the city and its stated desire for stability and harmony. China’s Communist Party leaders need someone they can trust, but also someone who can win local support and manage the city’s increasingly antagonistic relationship with the mainland.

“Beijing is worried about Hong Kong’s destabilizing potential, its embarrassment potential,” said Simon Young, a law professor and associate research dean at the University of Hong Kong.

“It’s probably one of the world’s most difficult jobs.”

Those differences were highlighted last month when Beijing’s chief Hong Kong representative, traditionally a low-key figure, sparked controversy by saying the chief executive was above the local judiciary and legislature.

    Veteran Hong Kong political and constitutional experts say the situation could work if a leader could keep Beijing’s trust while openly lobbying on behalf of the city, something none of Hong Kong’s three post-colonial leaders has managed.  

    The first, Tung Chee-hwa, quit during his second term after more than 500,000 people took to the streets to protest against a proposed anti-sedition law among other grievances.

Tsang, the church-going son of a policeman who was knighted for public service under the British colonial administration, retired from office in 2012. He was charged this month with misconduct in public office over a rental deal for a penthouse flat he rented in Shenzhen, southern China.

While he avoided bloodshed, current chief executive Leung Chun-ying presided over the biggest civil unrest since 1960s. For 79 days last year, pro-democracy activists occupied downtown Hong Kong to press Beijing for full democracy.

Leung has faced widespread calls to resign and democratic lawmakers have also demanded an anti-graft investigation into $6.4 million in business payments he received after assuming office. He has denied any wrongdoing.

(Reporting by Clare Baldwin; Additional reporting by Greg Torode; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Mark Bendeich)

]]>
http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/10/11/hks-leaders-doomed-to-fail-without-reforms-says-pro-china-lawmaker/feed/ 0
Hong Kong retail sales fall for a sixth straight month http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/02/hongkong-economy-retail-idUSL1N12108G20151002?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/10/02/hong-kong-retail-sales-fall-for-a-sixth-straight-month/#comments Fri, 02 Oct 2015 09:50:19 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/?p=1178 HONG KONG, Oct 2 (Reuters) – Hong Kong retail sales fell for
the sixth straight month in August as a drop-off in tourist
arrivals from mainland China and its economic slowdown took a
bite out of the luxury goods business.

Retail sales slipped 5.4 percent from a year earlier to
HK$37.9 billion ($4.89 billion). That followed a revised 2.9
percent fall in July, a 0.4 percent slide in June, 0.1 percent
in May, 2.1 percent in April and 2.9 percent in March. In volume
terms, August sales slipped 0.2 percent.

“This was in part due to the slowdown in inbound tourism,
while the stock market gyrations of late might also have dented
consumer sentiment,” the government said in a statement, adding
that a later mid-Autumn festival this year also pushed back some
sales.

“Outlook for retail sales is still subject to uncertainties,
depending on the performance of inbound tourism and on whether
there would be further negative impact from the recent
heightened stock market volatility,” the government said.

On Wednesday, Financial Secretary John Tsang told Reuters
that Hong Kong is looking at a “new normal” economic growth rate
of 2-4 percent, about half the pace at which it grew in 2011.

HIGH RENTS HURT

Hong Kong’s comparatively high rents and wages have hurt
companies as fewer mainland Chinese tourists have come to the
city to buy handbags, watches and designer clothing.

Leather goods maker Coach Inc closed one of its
flagship locations in downtown Hong Kong while luxury brands
including Prada SpA have said they are trying to
re-negotiate their rents in the city.

Tourist arrivals from the mainland, which accounted for more
than 80 percent of the visitors to Hong Kong in August, slipped
7.1 percent in the month from a year ago, according to Hong Kong
Tourism Board data.

The strong Hong Kong dollar – which is pegged to the U.S.
dollar – has made the city an expensive destination. China’s
wealthiest tourists are also now looking to more exotic
destinations.

August sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable
gifts were down 8.8 percent on a value basis. Clothing and
footwear were down 12 percent on the same basis while food,
alcohol and tobacco slid 10.2 percent.

The South China Morning Post reported on Friday a lacklustre
first day to the Chinese Golden Week holiday. It quoted one
retailer as saying sales were down as much as 70 percent from
last year’s first day.

($1 = 7.7500 Hong Kong dollars)

(Editing by Richard Borsuk)

]]>
http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/10/02/hong-kong-retail-sales-fall-for-a-sixth-straight-month/feed/ 0
As China sparkle fades, De Beers sees glint in bridal, gift diamonds http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/30/us-china-diamonds-luxury-idUSKCN0RU0PR20150930?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/09/30/as-china-sparkle-fades-de-beers-sees-glint-in-bridal-gift-diamonds/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2015 08:05:48 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/?p=1176 HONG KONG (Reuters) – Famed diamond supplier De Beers expects the value of its sales of the polished jewel in China may rise this year by just over a tenth of 2011’s surge, as the economy that has long bolstered global luxury goods heads for its weakest growth in 25 years.

The world’s largest diamond producer by value expects 2015 China polished diamond sales to rise 3-5 percent in U.S. dollar terms, Stephen Lussier, head of its Forevermark brand, said in a recent interview. They grew 5 percent last year, down from 29 percent four years ago and 33 percent in 2010.

De Beers, owned by miner Anglo American Plc, joins firms from Italy’s Prada SpA to France’s LVMH in having to acclimatize to a more subdued Chinese economy. For Lussier, one strategy is to home in on high-demand niches.

“The bridal business and the gifting business, particularly amongst younger consumers in China, is really today the main growth area,” said the executive, in Hong Kong for a jewelry and gem fair to launch De Beers’ annual industry report.

Lussier played down the prospect of a large impact from China’s economic slowdown on De Beers. “There is some impact from the economy, but it’s not dramatic,” he said.

Forevermark was able to leverage “Chinese Valentine’s Day” promotions to drive August like-for-like same-store sales in China to a record. China’s Valentine’s Day, which varies according to the Lunar calendar, fell on Aug. 20 this year versus Aug. 2 in 2014.

With consumers aged 18 to 29 the main drivers of the bridal and gifting sectors, China sales of the Forevermark diamond brand are on track to exceed last year’s record of about $280 million in retail sales, Lussier said.

But soft economic data, wild swings in the country’s stock market, a government clampdown on splurge spending by officials and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have all heightened concern over potential weakening of luxury sales in greater China.

Adding to jitters, China devalued its yuan in mid-August by nearly 2 percent. The global diamond trade – worth about $80 billion – is conducted in U.S. dollars, meaning that a stronger dollar, or weaker yuan, also makes diamonds more expensive for Chinese buyers.

While demand growth has slowed in China itself, mainland buyers are turning to overseas destinations such as Vancouver, Seoul and Tokyo, fuelling hopes they may continue to outspend peers from other Asian countries.

Surveyed by MasterCard in May and June – before recent economic jitters – Chinese shoppers aged 18-29 said they expected to spend an average of $4,362 on luxury goods in the next year, nearly double the average of $2,584 across Asia Pacific.

(Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Kenneth Maxwell)

]]>
http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/09/30/as-china-sparkle-fades-de-beers-sees-glint-in-bridal-gift-diamonds/feed/ 0
Rights group demands Chinese supporters of HK democracy be freed http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/28/us-hongkong-occupy-amnesty-idUSKCN0RR0QA20150928?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/09/28/rights-group-demands-chinese-supporters-of-hk-democracy-be-freed/#comments Mon, 28 Sep 2015 03:29:43 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/?p=1173 HONG KONG (Reuters) – Amnesty International called on Monday for the release of eight mainland Chinese activists who face long prison sentences for posting messages and pictures supporting Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy protests.

Six of the activists, arrested on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” after holding up banners with messages such as “Support Hong Kong’s fight for freedom”, face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

They have been charged with “inciting subversion of state power”, “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place”.

Human Rights Watch also issued a statement last week demanding the Hong Kong government drop charges against Hong Kong activists, investigate its handling of the city’s pro-democracy protests and restart the electoral reform process.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Liaison Office in Hong Kong did not respond to requests for comment. The Hong Kong police said the political stance of any person is not a

consideration for arrest or prosecution.

The Hong Kong Justice Department declined to comment on cases before the courts but said there is no justification for dropping criminal charges simply because people seek to express their political aspiration.

The Independent Police Complaints Council has said previously it was reviewing complaints related to the protests.

Monday marks the one-year anniversary of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, during which activists blocked major roads in the city for 79 days to demand open nominations for the city’s next chief executive election in 2017.

While largely peaceful, the size and duration of the protests – and the fact that they took place in full view of international media, who filmed the activists using umbrellas to defend themselves against police tear gas, pepper spray and batons – raised a serious challenge to China’s Communist Party, which has been tightening control over civil society.

Citing the need to buttress national security and stability, President Xi Jinping’s administration has tightened government control over almost every aspect of civil society since 2012.

It has adopted a sweeping new national security law, launched a months-long campaign in state media to discredit human rights activists for undermining national stability by using social media, and recently detained dozens of lawyers and activists.

According to the Amnesty report, Chinese activist Sun Feng, who tried to travel to Beijing with his own proposal for Hong Kong electoral reform, and five others – Su Changlan, Chen Qitang, Wang Mo, Xie Wenfei and Zhang Shengyu – face up to 15 years in prison.

Activist Ji Sizun faces up to 10 years in prison and Ye Xiaozheng faces up to five.

Su said she was denied adequate medical treatment and Zhang said he was beaten and chained to a bed for 15 days, according to the report which cited the activists’ lawyers.

President Xi is due to return to China on Monday from a state visit to the United States.

(Reporting by Clare Baldwin; Additional reporting by Stella Tsang; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Michael Perry)

]]>
http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/09/28/rights-group-demands-chinese-supporters-of-hk-democracy-be-freed/feed/ 0
Rights group demands Chinese supporters of Hong Kong democracy be freed http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/27/us-hongkong-occupy-amnesty-idUSKCN0RR0QA20150927?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/09/27/rights-group-demands-chinese-supporters-of-hong-kong-democracy-be-freed/#comments Sun, 27 Sep 2015 16:09:37 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/?p=1171 HONG KONG (Reuters) – Amnesty International called on Monday for the release of eight mainland Chinese activists who face long prison sentences for posting messages and pictures supporting Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy protests.

Six of the activists, arrested after holding up banners with messages such as “Support Hong Kong’s fight for freedom”, face up to 15 years in prison.

They have been charged with “inciting subversion of state power”, “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place”.

Human Rights Watch also issued a statement last week demanding the Hong Kong government drop charges against Hong Kong activists, investigate its handling of the city’s pro-democracy protests and restart the electoral reform process.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Liaison Office in Hong Kong did not respond to requests for comment. The Hong Kong police and Justice Department also did not respond to requests for comment.

The Independent Police Complaints Council has said previously it was reviewing complaints from the protests.

Monday marks the one-year anniversary of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, during which activists blocked major roads in the city for 79 days to demand open nominations for the city’s next chief executive election in 2017.

While largely peaceful, the size and duration of the protests – and the fact that they took place in full view of international media, who filmed the activists using umbrellas to defend themselves against police tear gas, pepper spray and batons – raised a serious challenge to China’s Communist Party, which has been tightening control over civil society.

Citing the need to buttress national security and stability, President Xi Jinping’s administration has tightened government control over almost every aspect of civil society since 2012.

It has adopted a sweeping new national security law, launched a months-long campaign in state media to discredit human rights activists for undermining national stability by using social media, and recently detained dozens of lawyers and activists.

According to the Amnesty report, Chinese activist Sun Feng, who tried to travel to Beijing with his own proposal for Hong Kong electoral reform, and five others – Su Changlan, Chen Qitang, Wang Mo, Xie Wenfei and Zhang Shengyu – face up to 15 years in prison.

Activist Ji Sizun faces up to 10 years in prison and Ye Xiaozheng faces up to five.

Su said she was denied adequate medical treatment and Zhang said he was beaten and chained to a bed for 15 days, according to the report which cited the activists’ lawyers.

President Xi is returning to China from a state visit to the United States.

(Reporting by Clare Baldwin; Additional reporting by Stella Tsang; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

]]>
http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/09/27/rights-group-demands-chinese-supporters-of-hong-kong-democracy-be-freed/feed/ 0
Top Hong Kong judges defend rule of law in face of China pressure http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/25/us-hongkong-china-idUSKCN0RP1AB20150925?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/09/25/top-hong-kong-judges-defend-rule-of-law-in-face-of-china-pressure/#comments Fri, 25 Sep 2015 12:32:08 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/?p=1169 HONG KONG (Reuters) – Two top Hong Kong judges on Friday defended the rule of law in an apparent rebuke of China’s top official in the city who recently stoked controversy by saying Hong Kong’s China-backed leader was above the law.

The mainland official, Zhang Xiaoming, said this month Hong Kong’s chief executive had a “special legal position which is above the executive, legislative and judicial institutions.”

The controversy highlighted a passionate debate in Hong Kong about the extent of mainland control.

The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” framework that gave it separate laws and an independent judiciary but reserved ultimate authority for Beijing.

Hong Kong Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, speaking at the opening of a new court attended by Zhang, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and prominent foreign judges, said the rule of law was crucial to the financial hub’s success.

“Decisions of the courts may sometimes not be to everybody’s liking – whether they be private individuals, political or other groups, or even the government – but it is not the role of the courts to make popular decisions,” Ma said.

Former Hong Kong Chief Justice Andrew Li told reporters that “no one, no matter how high their status, can be above the law”.

Zhang did not comment.

Hong Kong has enjoyed a reputation as a bastion of legal independence compared with the mainland, though there has been concern in recent years about a politicization of the judiciary.

The debate about Beijing’s control was fueled last year by protests aimed at securing open nominations for the election of its next chief executive in 2017.

The anniversary of the beginning of those protests, which posed a political challenge to China’s Communist Party leaders, is on Monday.

Two dozen activists burned a photograph of Zhang outside the domed former legislative council building that will now serve as Hong Kong’s highest court.

The protesters, outnumbered by police, called for an independent judiciary and the dropping of charges against activists arrested over last year’s protests.

Former top judge Li has rejected suggestions by mainland legal experts that Hong Kong phase out foreign judges in its highest courts.

“In these uncertain times, it is all the more important that the rule of law with an independent judiciary should remain an unshakeable foundation of our society,” Li wrote in a recent editorial.

Hong Kong’s Department of Justice said on Friday Hong Kong’s judiciary should “as far as possible” handle Hong Kong affairs.

(Reporting by Stella Tsang and Clare Baldwin; Editing by James Pomfret, Robert Birsel)

]]>
http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/09/25/top-hong-kong-judges-defend-rule-of-law-in-face-of-china-pressure/feed/ 0
Ahead of Hong Kong protest anniversary, little appetite for another occupation http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/09/24/uk-hongkong-china-occupy-idUKKCN0RO0YK20150924?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11708 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/09/24/ahead-of-hong-kong-protest-anniversary-little-appetite-for-another-occupation/#comments Thu, 24 Sep 2015 13:51:39 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/?p=1167 HONG KONG (Reuters) – A year after Hong Kong riot police fired tear gas at pro-democracy protesters in scenes that grabbed global headlines, there appears to be little appetite for another mass occupation of the Chinese-controlled city.

Instead, a political slanging match is building, with China’s top representative in Hong Kong saying this month that leader Leung Chun-ying is above the law, prompting fierce debate and a backlash from pro-democracy activists.

This was followed by controversial remarks from a former Chinese official who said the failure of Hong Kong to be “de-colonised” was the cause of many of its problems.

The comments have reignited fears about Beijing’s expanding influence in the city, although the mood today is a far cry from the anger and frustration that galvanised protesters to take to the streets late last year to demand full democracy.

“There is a certain sense of fatigue. At the same time there is a realization that not much can be achieved in terms of forcing concessions from the CY Leung administration or from Beijing. So there are no attractive, realizable objectives to mobilise Hong Kong people,” said democracy activist and retired political science professor Joseph Cheng. “To some extent, we have to wait for important political changes in China.”

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that gave it some autonomy from the mainland and an undated promise of universal suffrage.

Democracy activists have been demanding free elections for the city’s next leader in 2017 rather than vote between candidates that have been screened by Beijing.

In June, Hong Kong’s legislature vetoed the China-backed electoral reform package, that had been labelled as undemocratic by opposition pro-democracy lawmakers and activists.

Plans to mark the first anniversary of the Occupy movement on Sept. 28 include talks on university campuses and a silent protest in front of Hong Kong government headquarters. Another major street occupation is not expected.

The anniversary comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a state visit to the United States.

Hong Kong student protest leader Joshua Wong, university professor and protest leader Benny Tai and veteran democracy leader Martin Lee also travelled to the United States this week, hoping Washington would press Xi on democratic reform.

The activists failed to meet with top White House officials.

Wong, before he left Hong Kong, said the city’s fight for democracy would be long and require new strategies.

“I’m not saying that civil disobedience is not useful in the future,” he said, but added: “I would like to put more effort into thinking about what strategy the pan-democrats or the people on the more liberal side can use to fight for democracy.”

(Reporting by Clare Baldwin; Additional reporting by Venus Wu, Stefanie McIntyre and Diana Chan; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree)

]]>
http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/09/24/ahead-of-hong-kong-protest-anniversary-little-appetite-for-another-occupation/feed/ 0
Ahead of HK protest anniversary, little appetite for another occupation http://in.reuters.com/article/2015/09/24/hongkong-china-occupy-idINKCN0RO0YV20150924?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11709 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/09/24/ahead-of-hk-protest-anniversary-little-appetite-for-another-occupation/#comments Thu, 24 Sep 2015 09:47:45 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/?p=1165 HONG KONG (Reuters) – A year after Hong Kong riot police fired tear gas at pro-democracy protesters in scenes that grabbed global headlines, there appears to be little appetite for another mass occupation of the Chinese-controlled city.

Instead, a political slanging match is building, with China’s top representative in Hong Kong saying this month that leader Leung Chun-ying is above the law, prompting fierce debate and a backlash from pro-democracy activists.

This was followed by controversial remarks from a former Chinese official who said the failure of Hong Kong to be “de-colonised” was the cause of many of its problems.

The comments have reignited fears about Beijing’s expanding influence in the city, although the mood today is a far cry from the anger and frustration that galvanised protesters to take to the streets late last year to demand full democracy.

“There is a certain sense of fatigue. At the same time there is a realization that not much can be achieved in terms of forcing concessions from the CY Leung administration or from Beijing. So there are no attractive, realizable objectives to mobilize Hong Kong people,” said democracy activist and retired political science professor Joseph Cheng. “To some extent, we have to wait for important political changes in China.”

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that gave it some autonomy from the mainland and an undated promise of universal suffrage.

Democracy activists have been demanding free elections for the city’s next leader in 2017 rather than vote between candidates that have been screened by Beijing.

In June, Hong Kong’s legislature vetoed the China-backed electoral reform package, that had been labelled as undemocratic by opposition pro-democracy lawmakers and activists.

Plans to mark the first anniversary of the Occupy movement on Sept. 28 include talks on university campuses and a silent protest in front of Hong Kong government headquarters. Another major street occupation is not expected.

The anniversary comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a state visit to the United States.

Hong Kong student protest leader Joshua Wong, university professor and protest leader Benny Tai and veteran democracy leader Martin Lee also travelled to the United States this week, hoping Washington would press Xi on democratic reform.

The activists failed to meet with top White House officials.

Wong, before he left Hong Kong, said the city’s fight for democracy would be long and require new strategies.

“I’m not saying that civil disobedience is not useful in the future,” he said, but added: “I would like to put more effort into thinking about what strategy the pan-democrats or the people on the more liberal side can use to fight for democracy.”

(Reporting by Clare Baldwin; Additional reporting by Venus Wu, Stefanie McIntyre and Diana Chan; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree)

]]>
http://blogs.reuters.com/clare-baldwin/2015/09/24/ahead-of-hk-protest-anniversary-little-appetite-for-another-occupation/feed/ 0