Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 27° Partly Cloudy
News >  Nation/World

Hong Kong leader rejects student demands

Kelvin Chan Associated Press

HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s embattled leader attended a flag-raising ceremony today to mark China’s National Day after refusing to meet pro-democracy demonstrators despite their threats to expand the street protests that have posed the stiffest challenge to Beijing’s authority since China took control of the former British colony in 1997.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took part in the ceremony – marking the anniversary of the founding of communist China in 1949 – as hundreds of protesters behind police barricades yelled at him to step down, although they fell silent and turned their backs when the ceremony began.

Helicopters flew past carrying the Hong Kong and Chinese flags, with the latter noticeably bigger.

In a speech, Leung made no direct mention of the protesters, who have blocked streets for days across the city to press demands for genuine democratic reforms for Hong Kong’s first direct elections in 2017 to choose the city’s top leader. Beijing has restricted the voting reforms, requiring candidates to be screened by a committee of mostly pro-Beijing local elites similar to the one who handpicked Leung for the job.

“It is definitely better to have universal suffrage than not,” Leung said. “It is definitely better to have the chief executive elected by 5 million eligible voters than by 1,200 people. And it is definitely better to cast your vote at the polling station than to stay home and watch on television the 1,200 members of the Election Committee cast their votes.”

As he spoke to a group of dignitaries, pro-democracy lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung shouted for him to step down before he was bundled away by security. Local councilor Paul Zimmerman held up a yellow umbrella. Umbrellas used by protesters to deflect police pepper spray have become a symbol of the nonviolent civil disobedience movement.

Leung’s rejection of the student demands dashed hopes for a quick resolution of the five-day standoff that has blocked city streets and forced some schools and offices to close.

It was not clear what the demonstrators planned to do next.

Earlier Tuesday, Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, the organizer of the university class boycotts that led to the street protests, said the students were considering options if their demands were not met, including widening the protests, pushing for a labor strike and occupying a government building.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.