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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 2:01pm
Occupy Central
NewsHong Kong

Occupy Central thumbs nose at state media's use of 1.3b population to criticise unofficial vote

No basis for comparison between 720,000-strong turnout at reform 'referendum' and 1.3 billion national population, poll organisers say

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 11:54am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 6:17pm

The Occupy Central movement for democracy yesterday gave as good as it got from state media, describing as laughable an editorial that called its unofficial referendum on Hong Kong's electoral reform ludicrous.

Organisers of the ongoing citywide poll dismissed criticism from state-run tabloid Global Times that the voter turnout - 728,601 by midnight last night - was "no match" for the 1.3 billion population in the whole of China.

That view was laughable, and disregarded the "one country, two systems" policy under which Hong Kong operates, Occupy co-organiser Dr Chan Kin-man said.

"If the 1.3 billion people really have a vote, I believe they will support democratic development in Hong Kong to serve as a model of demonstration for the rest of the country," Chan said.

On Sina.com's microblog service, Weibo, the editorial promptly triggered heated discussion. "Let the 1.3 billion people have a vote and see!" one person wrote, while another lamented: "I'm 47 years old and I have never seen a ballot before."

Occupy's 10-day "referendum" lists three reform plans, all of which allow the public to nominate candidates for the 2017 chief executive election in some form - an idea Beijing rejects. By making the population comparison and calling the exercise an "illegal farce", the Global Times is attempting to discredit the exercise.

The newspaper advises Hong Kong's opposition to "remember how the state defeated the Iron Lady's administration and took back Hong Kong", in a reference to former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher that appeared in the Chinese version of the editorial but not the English one.

"Even if they can deceive more than half of Hongkongers, Beijing will never compromise on sovereignty-related issues," it said. "The simplest reason is that the Basic Law reflects the will of the whole nation as well, and therefore more than 1.3 billion people have the right to speak on Hong Kong's political reform." Political scientist Dixon Sing Ming said he was not surprised by the tabloid's words, given its usual tough stance, but it might not represent Beijing's true view as its comments were sometimes "corrected" by another state-run paper, the People's Daily.

Watch: Hongkongers voice their opinion on the referendum, democracy, and Occupy Central”

Federation of Students secretary general Alex Chow Yong-kang said action to "occupy" a part of the city remained on his group's agenda early next month.

"We do expect the government to respond to the poll results," Chow said. "If it still categorically rules out public nomination or party nomination, we will occupy the streets."

Chan urged restraint, though he asked Occupy voters to join the annual July 1 democracy march to refute claims that their votes were fake.

Chan's Occupy colleague Benny Tai Yiu-ting added: "The spirit of civil disobedience is to exhaust all legal means to protest first.

"We will know the poll results on June 30. We need to give the government a reasonable amount of time to respond."

Meanwhile, in the public poll that started on Friday, 728,601 votes had been cast online and at the 15 polling stations by midnight last night. The exercise will continue until Sunday.

A queue of about 100 voters formed at City University, the only polling station that was open after the weekend. One of them, student Rosanna Tang, 24, said the Global Times editorial "did not make sense" and had provoked her into voting.

Elaine Yu, a clerk in her 50s, said the editorial made her more determined to vote. "Hong Kong is the only Chinese city where people can voice their opinions freely … Everyone should make an effort for the sake of our younger generations."



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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
Every new squawk from Beijing is another 50,000 votes.
No one in HK wants anything more than the autonomy that Beijing promised. Let us handle local matters. That was the deal. Sadly, Beijing sees any question about its view of the basic law as a rubicon not to be crossed. Peace can prevail if there is respect on both sides.
Dai Muff
Public opinion is not illegal.
We have 10% if our population who were able to have a say in their future, where as China's population who are able to vote is 0%.
Gotta love the communist propaganda machine. Run, dogs, run.
What? How did China "defeat" the iron lady? Wasn't it agreed that Hong Kong will be handed back?
So now we're getting even more insight to China's thinking, because if they were in UK's position, the agreement would've meant nothing and they wouldn't have handed back Hong Kong to the UK at all!
I guess that is the approach that China takes: doesn't matter if there's an agreement, when I like something, I'll take it or keep it by force.
John Adams
Regardless of the legality or otherwise of the mock referendum ( which I personally did not take part in because it did not allow me to vote against public nomination) words like : 'illegal farce' and 'tinged with mincing ludicrousness' are much more appropriate when describing the Global Times itself, rather than anything that is spoken or written by HK people ( except, perhaps, the People Power / raving-loony party ) .
Marcus T Anthony
Interesting that the Global Times piece is repeating word for word what certain members of the SCMP forum have been stating for the past several days. Could it be that some here know Beijing policy before it even becomes public? Shock! Horror! Beijing's 3 Trillion in national reserves - slowly depleting wu mao by wu mao.
"Global Times" - a state mouthpiece. That says all. I don't think that for China the vote of 1.3 billion people in the Hong Kong question are crucial, but rather the "upper 10,000" who need Hong Kong as a place to clean their money through "investments", obtain SAR Passports for visa-free travelling and sending their kids to HK schools.
Interesting. The CCP might be shooting itself in the foot not just regarding Hong Kong, where the more they froth, the stronger the calls for more democracy get, but also for the rest of China, where the unreasonable position that a city may not even elect its own mayor is beginning to get noticed.



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