Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters yesterday draped a black flag over a statue symbolizing the territory’s return to China by Britain, days before a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) to mark 20 years since the handover.
Demosisto Secretary-General Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) and a dozen demonstrators draped the black cloth over the Forever Blooming Bauhinia Sculpture in Golden Bauhinia Square in an early morning protest as security tried to stop them climbing on the famous tourist attraction.
The sculpture, which became the emblem of Hong Kong after the handover, was a present to the city from China in 1997 and stands outside the convention center where Xi is to attend anniversary events during a three-day visit starting on Thursday.
Police were called to take the flag down while the protesters chanted “democratic self-determination for Hong Kong’s future” and “‘one country, two systems’ has been a lie for 20 years,” referring to Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous status.
“You are insulting our country. You are Chinese,” a guard shouted at the protesters.
“The protest action aims to express our anger and disappointment against the administration for the major political blunders since 1997,” Demosisto said in a statement.
It accused China of failing to honor promises made in the handover agreement, “depriving Hong Kong people of civil and political rights to free elections and democracy.”
Xi’s visit is to be his first since becoming president in 2013 and is to culminate on Saturday with the inauguration of Hong Kong’s chief executive-elect Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥).
Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend various protests when Xi is in town, including a Saturday rally with the theme “retake Hong Kong for a democratic government.”
Former Hong Kong lawmaker Martin Lee (李柱銘), the 79-year-old barrister widely regarded as one of the fathers of the democratic movement in Hong Kong, told reporters that Beijing is trying to “extinguish the fire of democracy that is burning in the hearts of young people.”
“But if I were to die today, Hong Kong would be fine with young leaders like that,” he said.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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