Close

Donate today to keep Global Voices strong!

Our global community of volunteers work hard every day to bring you the world's underreported stories -- but we can't do it without your help. Support our editors, technology, and advocacy campaigns with a donation to Global Voices!

Donate now

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Hundreds of Thousands of Hong Kongers Are Defying China and Demanding the Right to Nominate Their Next Leader

700 thousands Hong Kong citizens have voted for their right to nominate the Chief Executive by June 22. Image from OCLP's Facebook Page.

700,00 Hong Kong citizens had voted for their right to nominate the chief executive by the end of June 22, 2014. Image from Occupy Central with Love and Peace's Facebook page.

About 700,000 Hong Kong citizens have voted so far in an unofficial referendum hosted by civic group Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP) on democratic electoral reform, earning the ire of communist China. 

China has promised Hong Kong a direct vote for the next chief executive in 2017 instead of election via a largely pro-Beijing committee made of up representatives of different economic sectors and Hong Kong politicians. But the Chinese government insists that all candidates should be selected by a nominating committee, claiming that it is the only lawful means to do so according to the former British colony's constitution — the Basic Law.

People in Hong Kong, which enjoys a high level of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” principle, worry that the nominating committee is a way for China to ensure only puppet candidates are chosen. One of the criteria of a chief executive set by Beijing is he or she must “love the country and love Hong Kong.”

The referendum, held in partnership with University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme, includes three different options for electing Hong Kong's next leader, and all three include allowing the people to choose the candidates. Voting opened on June 20, 2014 and will end on June 29.

In the first two days alone, 700,000 participated, despite ongoing massive DDoS attacks targeting its voting system that began on June 14 when it opened for pre-registration. The scale of the attacks has led many to believe that the Chinese government is behind them. TV propaganda has pushed the idea that the nominating committee is necessary, and Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times called the referendum “an illegal farce” and “ludicrousness.”

Before the referendum began, Occupy Central expected 300,000 votes, but is now estimating that a million citizens could participate by the end. The group is planning protests if the government doesn't act on the demands for universal suffrage. 

"For those who are still sleeping, Wake up" Civic referendum poster by San Wong via the House News. Non commercial use.

“For those who are still sleeping, wake up.” Civil referendum poster by San Wong via House News. Non-commercial use.

Lester Sum, vice secretary of Hong Kong Federation of Students, wrote on citizen media platform inmediahk.net about the implications of civic referendum:

港人堅持爭取民主普選已超過30年,不少民主路上的同路人由黑髮等到白髮,白髮的甚至有的都已撒手人寰,香港都還未有落實真普選的一天。香港人,我們還要再等嗎?我們還要被中共這滿口謊言的政權騙下去嗎?

更重要的是,這次的政制改革,很有可能會一錘定音、成為香港最終的政改方案。假若一個爛的、假的普選方案獲得通過,香港未來數十年的命運將繼續被中共、地產商、權貴牢牢操控着,政治權力也終將不會回歸人民手上,政府也永遠不會是為港人服務的政府。[...]

如果我們都同意香港必須改變,必須落實一個由人民當家作主的政治制度,就讓我們用行動、用選票,向中共政權、向梁振英此等腐敗政權,展示香港人爭取普選、爭取公民提名的決心。希望在於人民,改變始於抗爭。6月22,全民投票,全民共同撰寫歷史,自決我城命運。

Hong Kong people have been struggling for universal suffrage for more than 30 years. Their hair has turned grey along the path toward democracy. Some have left this world. Yet we still don't have genuine democracy. Should we continue to wait? Should we continue to believe the lie of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)?

More importantly, the upcoming political reform may be the last chance for us to make thing right. If a fake universal suffrage proposal has passed, Hong Kong's fate would be controlled by the CCP, property developers and the privileged class. The political power will not be given to the people, and the government will never serve the people. [...]

If we agree that Hong Kong must be changed and that we have to implement a political system that gives power to the people, let us act, use our vote to show our determination for universal suffrage and citizen nomination to the corrupt power of the CCP and [current Hong Kong Chief Executive] Leung Chun-ying. The hope is in the people, the change begins with struggle. The civil referendum on June 22 is the moment the city's fate is written.

Instead of expressing himself in words, Eric Chow designed a series of posters to show the referendum as a means to defend freedom of expression, the rule of law, human rights, local culture and social justice.

Defend rule of law and justice with your vote in June 22. Image by Eric Chow.

“Defend rule of law and justice with your vote in June 22.” Image by Eric Chow.

Cheung Yuen Man, a local writer, took a more personal approach and wrote a letter to her senior family members who escaped to Hong Kong from China and became apolitical or even conservative:

我沒有忘記你當年是游水來港的。[...]而是風高浪急的大海,每一個浪都淹過你的頭顱,那時香港海域還有鯊出沒。你蹤身下海的一剎,到底要多大勇氣﹖[...]你們當年是求安穩,如今我們求的也不過是這些。也許甚麼一人一票,普選,民主自由這些崇高的字眼你不熟悉而其實我也不太懂,那我們就來談談日常生活:我們希望不會無故被迫遷;努力讀書便能上大學不用使黑錢;希望可以在臉書上繼續吹水,希望吃菜不會吃著黑心菜,養的狗不會被當街生劏或打死。[...]其實我們也想當順民。只是這個政府沒有叫人當順民的能力。我們這一代,並沒有和你們相差太遠;唯一的分別,是那時你們還有一個叫「香港」的出路,而我們已無路可逃。

I haven't forgotten that you swam to Hong Kong. [...] The waves in the sea were huge and every one of them covered your head. In those days, there were sharks near Hong Kong. Imagine how much courage you had when you jumped into the sea. [...] You were seeking stability in those days. Now we are also seeking the same stability. Maybe you don't know much about terms like “one person one vote,” “universal suffrage,” “democracy” and “freedom.” Neither do I. Let's talk about everyday life: We hope that we won't be forced out of our homes, we hope that we don't have to bribe someone to get into university, we hope that we can still chat freely on Facebook, we hope that our vegetables are not poisonous and our dogs won't be butchered on the streets. [...] We want to be obedient. But the government has lost its ability to ask people to obey. Our generation is similar to yours. The only difference is that you could escape to “Hong Kong,” while we have no where to go.

Political news columnist “Timar Man” called the 700,000 votes so far a public opinion revolution in the House News:

即使再動員更多職業紅衞兵組織,同洶湧嘅投票市民一比,即刻變成鬧劇,數以十萬計市民表態,猶如洗太平地,沖走呢類牛鬼蛇神。[...] 過去幾日,我們所經歷的是一場民意革命,香港走出了一個全民投票新模式,其影響也不限於2017真普選,也不限於佔中運動。小小香港一個全民投票,觸發國家級網絡戰,可見在某些人眼中,需要將全民投票消滅於萌芽狀態,正因為他們也知道,這個Pandora box打開後,將會釋放出新的本土政治能量。

No matter how many professional red guards were mobilized [by the pro-Beijing clan], when compared with the turnout of the civil referendum, they were just clowns. The voices of hundreds of thousands of people has exercised all the ghosts and spirits. [...] We have experienced a public opinion revolution in the past few days. Its impact is no smaller than universal suffrage in 2017 and the Occupy Central campaign. A small civil referendum in Hong Kong has triggered a state-scale cyber war. It is obvious that someone is trying to nip this in the bud. They know that this Pandora's box will release political energy into Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government will soon present a reform package for the election of the legislature in 2016 and the chief executive in 2017. It recently completed the public consultation phase, and the consultation report is due in a few months. On the surface, reform sounds promising. But the government has stressed that the reform must be within the framework of the Basic Law, and interpretation of that law rests largely with Beijing, so civic action from Hong Kongers is important. 

Another unofficial referendum is planned, pitting the citizen proposal against the government proposal after it is released, and if the citizen proposal wins, Occupy Central plans to peacefully take over the city's Central District.

Follow our in-depth coverage: Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site