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Hong Kong democrats stage hunger strike to push reform

Hong Kong democrats stage hunger strike to push reform

Democracy campaigners in Hong Kong launched a week-long hunger strike yesterday to press Beijing to allow greater political freedoms in the former British colony.
The strike by about 50 members of the main opposition Democratic Party comes as China's communist government debates the pace of political reform in Hong Kong, and is expected to make an announcement next week.
"This is not a protest, this is intended to show our commitment and dedication to gaining full democracy for Hong Kong by 2012," Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho told reporters outside the legislature in downtown Hong Kong.
When Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 it was granted a wide degree of autonomy and a pledge that it would ultimately be allowed to directly elect all of its legislators and its leader, although no date was ever given.
A decade on, and still only half of the 60-seat legislature is elected and the territory's top leader, or chief executive, is chosen by an 800-strong committee full of Beijing loyalists.
Democrats say the city - a bustling international financial center - is mature enough to choose its own government. Beijing and its allies want a more gradual approach. The issue has taken on a greater political profile with the election to the legislature of Anson Chan, a former top-level government official who was dubbed "Hong Kong's" conscience for her championing of civil liberties while in office.
Ho said he would take the first hunger strike "shift," going without food for up to 50 hours before being replaced by other members of the party, including leaders of the women and youth wings.
The campaign was expected to last through Saturday, when a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress - the lawmaking arm of the Chinese government - will announce its decision on political reform.
The committee is studying a proposal put forward by the territory's leader, Donald Tsang, after a three-month public consultation that indicated more than half the population want full democracy by 2012.
Tsang said he had passed on Hong Kong's wishes for democracy, but cautioned 2012 was too early, and that 2017 was a more achievable date.
Tsang also asked for the territory to be able to make the first changes to its electoral process by 2012, a request likely to be approved by Beijing, a report said yesterday.
"The central government will definitely say yes ... it is unlikely to reject (amendments to electoral methods in) 2012, as it has to provide a reason to any rejection," Ng Hon-mun, a Hong Kong member of the Standing Committee, told the South China Morning Post.
Political observers expect the committee that chooses the territory's leader to be enlarged from 800 to 1,200 members.


Updated : 2021-07-25 11:38 GMT+08:00