Hongkongers who participated in the anti-Occupy Central march on Sunday were pushed by pro-democracy forces to take to the streets, a mainland newspaper said.
The state-run Global Times, published by the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, cited the Hong Kong police estimate of 111,000 participants, and pointed out that the number was higher than the turnout of the July 1 pro-democracy march.
The public opinion programme of the University of Hong Kong put the number at 79,000 to 88,000, about half of its estimate for the July 1 march.
The editorial said it was the pro-democracy groups that forced the country- and Hong Kong-loving people to take to the streets, because Occupy Central supporters are using large-scale protests to show Hong Kong’s “universal support” for trying to legalise an illegal act.
It accused the pro-democracy groups of creating an illusion that they represent the public opinion of Hong Kong. The massive show of force by patriotic marchers, on the other hand, “recovered the true face of Hong Kong as a pluralistic society”, said the editorial.
“The march and the signatures for peace and universal suffrage have shaken the base of the opposition’s influence, and have proven that they only represent the opinions of some Hongkongers, and they are opinions from ‘a minority of people’. They don’t have any reason to ask the Hong Kong and central governments to accept their opinion on the political reform unconditionally,” it said.
Among Sunday’s marchers were mainland tourists and elderly participants organised by pro-Beijing associations.
Local media reported that some participants were offered free lunches or even money, while some employees were pressured into joining by their mainland-connected companies.
The editorial said the anti-Occupy Central march, together with the close to 1.5 million signatures collected to denounce the civil disobedience movement, shows that “the anti-Occupy Central forces who love the country and love Hong Kong have overwhelmed the opposition’s forces on the streets”, and that its vigour is no less than that of the July 1 march.
But many witnesses of the march described it as “lukewarm” and “strange”, as not many marchers were chanting slogans, but were chit-chatting in their own dialects.
The overseas edition of People’s Daily also published an article regarding yesterday’s march, which it said has “expressed the mainstream public opinion” and is “the best evidence of the popular sentiment”.