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Hong Kong Students to launch week-long class boycott in democracy struggle

Thousands of students have converged on the Chinese University of Hong Kong campus
Thousands of students have converged on the Chinese University of Hong Kong campus

(TibetanReview.net, Sep22, 2014) – Ahead of the launch of the “Occupy Central” shutdown expected next month, students from 24 universities and colleges in Hong Kong plan to hold a weeklong citywide campaign of civil disobedience, including classroom strikes, mass gatherings and downtown protests, beginning Sep 22, reported Reuters and the AFP Sep 21.  The campaign followed China’s rejection of demands for a fully democratic election of the Special Administrative Region’s Chief Executive due in 2017.

The reports said leading academics in Hong Kong had voiced support for the boycott, with some offering to record lectures and post them online for students who miss school to watch later.

The Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution since Jul 1, 1997, aims for universal suffrage. However, on Aug 31, 2014, China said in a unanimous resolution adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC),  it would permit a vote for Hong Kong’s next chief executive, but only for a handful of prescreened candidates. In addition, a white paper on Hong Kong issued by the Chinese government earlier made it clear that candidates for the election must be patriotic and must love the Communist Party of China, which is seen as excluding democracy campaigners from the race.

Activists have threatened to shut down the Central financial district as part of their prodemocracy campaign.

“The new generation is totally dissatisfied,” Alex Chow, leader of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, was quoted as saying in a statement. The statement accuses Beijing of having “murdered” Hong Kong’s hopes and three-decade-long struggle to realize full democracy.

The strike marks the beginning of the “battle for public opinion” in Hong Kong, the AFP report quoted Sonny Lo, a professor at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, as saying. “The class boycott is… a testimony to the students’ affinity to the Hong Kong political and legal identity,” Lo added.

The Reuters report notes that the strike reflects a growing trend of civil disobedience among students in greater China, as well as in self-ruling by China-claimed Taiwan, where a large group occupied the island’s legislature for three weeks in Mar-Apr 2014 to oppose a controversial trade pact with China.

The NPCSC’s resolution still needs to win two-thirds support in Hong Kong’s 70-seat legislature, where pro-democracy lawmakers control slightly over a third of seats. All 27 pan-democrats have pledged to reject the vetting plan, said the AFP report.

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