Students calling for full democracy for Hong Kong are hoping to take their protest to the Chinese Communist Party rulers in Beijing and are expected to announce details of their new battle plan today.
The move signals a shift in the focus of the protests in the former British colony away from the Hong Kong government, which has said it has limited room for maneuver.
However, China is highly unlikely to allow any known pro-democracy activists into Beijing, especially if the trip coincides with this weekend’s APEC forum in Beijing.
“I think one of the ways we can solve this problem is to go to Beijing personally and have a direct dialogue with Beijing officials on this matter since the [Hong Kong] government claims that all decisions have to be passed up to the NPC,” Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) secretary-general Alex Chow (周永康) said last week, referring to China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress.
The protesters blocked key roads leading into three of Hong Kong’s most economically and politically important districts for weeks.
The campaign drew well more than 100,000 people at its peak and hundreds remain camped out at the main protest site in Admiralty, home to government offices and next to the main financial district.
The student organization has not yet said whether its planned trip was to coincide with APEC, which would mean, if allowed, it would take place in front of an audience of world leaders.
Another student leader, Nathan Law (羅冠聰), said details would be revealed today.
China has ruled Hong Kong since 1997 through a “one country, two systems” formula that allows wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland.
The protesters are demanding fully democratic elections for the territory’s next chief executive in 2017, not the vote between pre-screened candidates that Beijing has said it will allow.
A survey by Hong Kong University’s Public Opinion Programme on Tuesday showed that the HKFS has become the most popular political group in the city.
However, pro-Beijing groups have increasingly criticized the impact the protests are having on business. Hong Kong’s private sector economy posted its sharpest decline in three years, according to the HSBC purchasing managers’ index report for last month.
Tam Yiu-chung (譚耀宗), the leader of the territory’s largest pro-Beijing political party — the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said on Tuesday he would help convey the students’ message to Beijing if they stopped occupying key roads, broadcaster RTHK reported.
Tam was also quoted as saying a trip by the students to Beijing during the APEC meeting would not be successful.
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