Protesters will march through Hong Kong on the 15th anniversary of the city’s return to China this July 1, with distrust of local and mainland leaders rising amid human rights scandals and closer ties between the two economies.
As many as 100,000 people may join the march through the city’s Central district to the government headquarters as Chinese President Hu Jintao attends the swearing in of Hong Kong’s next chief executive, former property surveyor Leung Chun-ying, according to James Sung, a political scientist at the City University of Hong Kong.
The worst income gap since records were kept in 1971, along with close ties between government officials and tycoons, have stoked public anger in the run-up to Hong Kong’s leadership transition. Beijing’s effort to integrate the city’s economy more closely with the mainland’s has also raised fears that Hong Kong is losing its independence.
“People believe that the government hasn’t been able to do anything” to help improve their lives, said Joseph Cheng, a professor of political science at the City University of Hong Kong. “That the government refuses to act because it has been too eager to please the big businesses. This distrust has spilled over to the new administration.”
Hu arrived in Hong Kong today and lauded the “major achievements” since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997. The Chinese president said he wants to tour the city to understand the expectations and lives of residents.