Last week, the Hong Kong government released its long-awaited and highly controversial blueprint for the city’s 2017 leadership election. The electoral reforms package, announced last week by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, broadly follows a model proposed by the Chinese government last year, which requires candidates to first be approved by a committee expected to be dominated by Beijing loyalists.
Student leaders, who led the pro-democracy protests last September, have reportedly warned they will step up civil disobedience following the announcement of the plan, and suggested the idea of occupying the Legislative Council when the electoral reform bill is debated later this year.
Seven months ago tens of thousands of young protesters took to the streets to demand a legitimate democratic election for the city’s next leadership election.
Eight people were arrested in further protests in Hong Kong late on Sunday. Police officers reportedly used pepper spray to disperse dozens of people protesting in the shopping district of Mong Kok and blocking traffic on a major road.
The Hong Kong situation is volatile. Beijing is nervous about events there as they would be anxious to avoid any catalyst for wide spread rebellion as occurred during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Troops with assault rifles and tanks inflicted casualties on unarmed civilians trying to block the military’s advance into the square. Estimates of the death toll during that event range from the hundreds to a few thousands.