Asia Minute: Revisiting Hong Kong’s “Occupy Central”
It’s been just over a year since thousands of protestors packed the streets of Hong Kong in a movement known as “Occupy Central.” As part of our “Following Up” series this week, HPR’s Bill Dorman checks in with an update on Occupy Central in today’s Asia Minute.
Last week, about a thousand pro-democracy demonstrators gathered in Hong Kong --marking a year since the beginning of “Occupy Central”…a movement that blocked some streets for 79 days. The original point of protest: election plans for Hong Kong’s chief executive in 2017. The Beijing government announced Hong Kong residents could vote in direct elections, but the list of candidates would be chosen by a nominating committee - approved by the central government.
That sparked non-violent demonstrations - at their peak, an estimated 100-thousand people took part. When police fired tear gas, some used umbrellas to shield themselves from the canisters---leading to the name “The Umbrella Movement.” To many, 18 year old student leader Joshua Wong became the face of the movement. His voice was persistent and articulate in its criticism of the Beijing government.
Today, a year later, the central Chinese government has made no changes in policy or plans - despite calls for election reform passed by Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. Last week’s protests are a reminder the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong has not been silenced - but its next steps are unclear.
As for Joshua Wong, he has pleaded not guilty on charges of inciting and participating in an illegal assembly. His trial is scheduled to begin at the end of this month.