The ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which have waxed and waned over the past three weeks, face another critical point Tuesday when student leaders will attempt to hold talks once more with the government of Hong Kong’s embattled leader Leung Chun-ying.
There is not much optimism, though, that the talks will lead to a significant breakthrough. At the center of the impasse is Leung himself, an official loathed by the protest movement, which seeks his resignation as the Chinese territory’s chief executive.
Yet Leung, as my colleague Simon Denyer wrote last week, has remained defiant and rejects calls for his departure. In a Monday sit down with a group of foreign journalists, which included reporters from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, he showed no inclination of heeding protester demands and echoed earlier speculation from Beijing and officials in his government that the unrest was being driven in part by “foreign forces.”
What was perhaps most revealing, though, was Leung’s reason for dismissing the demonstrators’ call for genuine “universal suffrage.”
The original spark for the protests was news of Beijing’s decision that, while it would allow direct elections for Hong Kong’s chief executive in 2017, eligible voters among Hong Kong’s 7 million population would only be able to choose from a pool of candidates vetted by China’s authoritarian rulers. That, unsurprisingly, was unacceptable to many who want to see real democracy in the former British colony and fear Beijing may be slowly dismantling its unique freedoms.