In Hong Kong, despite torrents of typhoon rains, tens of thousands of people gathered Monday to protest the city’s Beijing-backed leadership and demand fully democratic elections.
Chanting and marching, carrying rain-soaked signs, wind whipped colonial Hong Kong flags, and large banners with forceful pro-democracy slogans, citizens amassed in the downtown area, clogging the streets.
An annual event, the Hong Kong protests have become especially popular in recent years, according to AP. With tens of thousands appearing this year this could be the largest demonstration yet, despite the unfriendly weather.
The former British colony was turned over to Chinese control on July 1, 1997, exactly 25 years ago to the day. Since then it has not been fully absorbed as a Chinese city.
Because of the enormous business and wealth that flows through Hong Kong, such an act would needlessly stifle the city’s economic dominance and no the Chinese economy no favors.
Since the hand over, Chinese leaders have promised Hong Kong citizens that they will be granted fully democratic elections in 2017. Many are not convinced, however, that China will keep its promise.
Many demonstrators disapprove of the Chinese-backed Hong Kong leader, Leung Chun-ying, and demanded his resignation during the rally. He was not democratically elected but instead picked by a council of Beijing supporters and elite businessmen.
The event’s organizers estimated that an incredible 430,000 Hong Kong citizens turned out for the rally. Police, however, disagree and have said as many as 66,000 assembled at the demonstration’s peak.
Tensions around this year’s event were palpable, as Hong Kong’s youth become increasingly politicized, much to Beijing’s alarm.
Reuters reports that subtle acts of sabotage, such as the torching of issues of popular anti-China newspapers, only fuel concern about Chinese meddling in Hong Kong’s promised democracy.
With this year’s anti-Chinese Communist demonstrations in Hong Kong drawing thousands and nearing record numbers, Beijing leadership’s hopes of absorbing the semi-autonomous city into China is dwindling.