Universal suffrage in Hong Kong

Policy, protests dominate media coverage of 2017 election decision

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 September, 2014, 11:20pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

The tough restrictions imposed by Beijing on the 2017 chief executive election garnered worldwide media attention, with many publications noting Beijing's high-handed approach and the pan-democrats' discontent.

A page one story in the International New York Times headlined, "Beijing curbs change in Hong Kong voting", suggested that Beijing's tough stance was partly due to President Xi Jinping's policies.

"The move closes one of the few avenues left for gradual political liberalisation in China after a sustained campaign against dissent on the mainland this year under President Xi Jinping," the newspaper said. "Advocates and opponents of political liberalisation alike have seen Hong Kong as a potential incubator for change in China," it added.

The Wall Street Journal splashed with a story headlined, "China rules out free vote" in its Asia edition.

An additional Journal story, headlined "Taiwan groups see red flag in ruling", discussed how Beijing's decision had shaken the confidence of some Taiwanese activists, who are now worried that Beijing could use similar tough tactics to reclaim the island.

The Financial Times ran a front page picture of the mass rally outside the government complex in Tamar on Sunday. Its report said London was studying the NPC Standing Committee decision.

In Taiwan, the pro-independence Liberty Times ran a story headlined, "China vetoes public nomination, builds a bird cage, Hong Kong loses universal suffrage".

The pro-Nationalist Party United Daily News ran a commentary warning that Hong Kong would not be peaceful anymore, as opponents promise waves of protests.

In Singapore, Lianhe Zaobao ran a story headlined, "Thousands of Hongkongers brave the rain to kick off civil disobedience", quoting Occupy Central organisers who said that Hong Kong was entering an era of resistance.

On the mainland, the party organ People's Daily ran an editorial titled, "Take a good and crucial step for Hong Kong's political development". In a reference to the pan-democrats' demands for genuine universal suffrage, the paper said: "Some people hijacked the public voice in Hong Kong for their selfish interests … Their ambition is to turn Hong Kong into an independent or semi-independent political entity".

The state paper China Daily also splashed with the National People's Congress Standing Committee decision, under the headline: "NPCSC sets direction for universal suffrage".

China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast an eight-minute package on the NPC decision on its news channel yesterday.

Xu Yamin, honorary director of Peking University's Centre for Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said that the state media's extensive coverage was understandable.

"People on the mainland also want to know about the big issues in Hong Kong and Macau, because Hong Kong and the mainland are developing side by side," Xu said. "It also wants to convey the message that it [is determined] to maintain Hong Kong's prosperity and stability and the 'one country, two systems' principle."