Hong Kong erupted into protest this weekend, following a summer of unrest in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. Hundreds of thousands of protestors gathered during the day, blocking the city up all night in the government and financial districts.
The protestors object to Beijing’s stance on the city’s ability to elect its chief executive in 2017. Beijing is choosing all the candidates, and voters won’t be allowed to choose any others. So far, there’s been significant financial fallout and at least one major bank has suspended some of its work in the city.
Yesterday the tear gas and pepper spray failed to deter the massive demonstrations. Here are some of the most captivating photos.
Hundreds of thousands of protestors have gathered in Hong Kong’s main business and government districts for weeks, protesting against a Beijing decision not to allow full democratic elections in 2017. The movement is usually referred to as Occupy Central.
The Chinese flag on top of the Admiralty building, flanked by the flag of Hong Kong, was turned upside down yesterday. An inverted flag is commonly used as a symbol of distress.
The massive display of civil disobedience prompted the use of pepper spray and tear gas by police. With one of the lowest crime rates in the world, major police crackdowns are seen as particularly shocking in Hong Kong.
Police in the city have been using similar methods against protestors over the summer, but images and footage began to get much wider coverage in Western media over the weekend.
The protestors used umbrellas in an attempt to avoid being sprayed and gassed. The protests are being referred to as the “umbrella revolution”.
Elections will be held in 2017 in Hong Kong and will be the first with universal suffrage, but only Beijing-approved candidates will be allowed to stand. The protestors believe this is against the agreement made with the UK during the city’s handover to China in 1997.
The protests went on all through the night, with the city’s main financial district brimming with demonstrators. The Hang Seng index of Hong Kong listed firms closed down 1.91% today.
The city is one of the few in the world to have double decker buses, giving it a visible link to its centuries under British control. Sections of the city were effectively closed to traffic by the protests yesterday.
This summer’s protests are the some of the largest seen in Hong Kong since the reunification in 1997, and highlight the uneasy relationship that the semi-autonomous region has with Beijing.
Some well-prepared protestors equipped themselves with gas masks, but improvised defences made of surgical face masks, cling film and goggles were more common.
Hong Kong’s current chief executive, CY Leung, said that the protestors were acting illegally, but dismissed rumors in the city that the Chinese army would intervene against the movement.
Anthony Kwan/Getty Images
The protestors don’t seem to plan on giving up soon, but the government in Beijing is extremely unlikely to back down and offer entirely open elections. So we probably haven’t seen the last of these protests.