HONG KONG: Organisers of a pro-democracy group who vowed to take over Hong Kong’s streets admitted yesterday they were powerless to change China’s plan to vet candidates for the city’s next leader, but said their protest would go ahead.
The admission came after activist leaders promised a new “era of civil disobedience” in front of thousands of supporters at a Sunday rally after Beijing crushed hopes for full democracy.
“We have to admit the fact that up to this point it is quite unrealistic to think that our action will change the decision made by Beijing,” Occupy Central cofounder Chan Kin-Man said.
“The first function about talking about Occupy Central is to create pressure for compromise and negotiation.”
“Now I believe we have already reached the end point in terms of the democratic change in the system,” Chan said.
He also said the movement could end if the city’s legislature vetoes the proposed electoral changes.
However Chan said direct action is still planned, mobilising thousands of people to block major thoroughfares in the financial district of Central to protect the city’s “core values” and “existing rights and liberties.”
But he acknowledged that supporters who are more “pragmatic” may back down.
“Ten thousand protesters was our target set in the past, we are still confident that thousands of people will join and it will last at least for days.”
Analysts said the movement may be changing tactics to dig in for a long-haul battle against Beijing.
“It is definitely a backing down but it is a strategic backing down,” Surya Deva, a professor at City University of Hong Kong’s School of Law said.
“They know they can’t really get the desired change by a short, intensive burst of civil disobedience.”
“They’re getting ready perhaps for a long term campaign -- and they need to build a base,” he added.
Hong Kong police have arrested 22 people during a series of protests targeting a senior visiting Chinese official, authorities said yesterday. AFP