Hong Kong’s leader agrees to negotiate with pro-democracy protesters
Leung Chun-ying, the current leader of Hong Kong, has ignored the demands of pro-democracy protestors in the city that he step down by Friday, with pressure from his backers in mainland China also increasing over what has become one of the most serious political challenges that they have faced in decades.
Mr. Leung refused to bend to an ultimatum from pro-democracy protestors to resign and has repeated police warnings of serious consequences should the protestors continue to block off and occupy government buildings. However, he did announce that Chief Secretary Carrie Lam would be meeting with the protestors to discuss political reforms, but gave no timeframe.
The streets of Hong Kong have filled with tens of thousands of protestors over the past week to demand full democracy, particularly a free voting system when they choose their new leader in 2017. The protests have been met with pepper spray, tear gas, and baton charges from police since last Sunday in an effort to break up the demonstrations.
Hong Kong operates under a “one country, two systems” formula which is underpinned by a “Basic Law” which was established when the British handed over the former colony to China in 1997. This means that China represents the city politically and protects it militarily, but Hong Kong is able to enjoy a level of autonomy and freedom that is not enjoyed on the mainland.
However, the Chinese government has been trying to strengthen its control over the financial hub, with the latest such attempt coming in the form of a decree on August 31, which made it so that candidates who want to run for Hong Kong’s highest position must be approved by the mainland government. This move enraged democracy activists, which led to the protests.
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