China Restricts Voting Reforms for Hong Kong

Chris Buckley and Michael Forsythe | 31 Aug 2014 | New York Times

HONG KONG — China’s legislature laid down strict limits on Sunday to proposed voting reforms in Hong Kong, pushing back against months of rallies calling for free, democratic elections.

Occupy Central says it will engage in nonviolent civil disobedience to avoid major disruption. Its organizers have said that they do not plan to plunge into mass protests immediately.

“We’re not making threats, we’re just sending warning signals,” said Mr. Tai, the group’s co-founder. “The house is on fire, something has to be done.”

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British Response to Election Limits Upsets Activists in Hong Kong

Alan Wong | 5 Sept 2014 | New York Times

HONG KONG — For months, democracy advocates in Hong Kong have called for an open election for the city’s leader and for international pressure to be exerted on Beijing to not interfere with Hong Kong’s autonomy.

That effort suffered another blow on Thursday when the British government said that it welcomed an act of China’s legislature that set strict limits on how Hong Kong is allowed to select its next leader, even while it acknowledged that the “detailed terms” of Beijing’s decision would “disappoint those who are arguing for a more open nomination process.”

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Foreign Forces in League with Hong Kong’s Democrats Include Gandhi, King, Jesus

Michael Forsythe | 1 Sept 2014 | New York Times

China’s leaders are onto something. Hong Kong citizens pushing for more democracy are indeed, as People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party newspaper, said, colluding “with external forces.” At the top of the list of foreigners influencing the movement: Gandhi, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ.

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After Hong Kong March, Speculation Over Payments and Motivations

Alan Wong | 18 August 2014 | New York Times

The aftermath of a mass gathering is not always pretty, be it the Woodstock festival or annual July 1 pro-democracy march in Hong Kong. To some extent, disorder and litter are inevitable.

So after the march in Hong Kong on Sunday to register opposition to the pro-democracy movement called Occupy Central with Love and Peace, what attracted the most attention was not the images of trash-strewn streets, but of the messy exchange of money for the apparent drudgery of participating in the march.

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Thousands Protest an ‘Occupy’ Movement in Hong Kong

Michael Forsythe, Alan Wong | 17 August 2014 | New York Times

HONG KONG — Tens of thousands of people marched under a blistering sun in Hong Kong on Sunday to express their opposition to a pro-democracy movement that has threatened to bring Asia’s biggest financial center to a standstill if the government does not open up the nomination process for electing the city’s top leader.

Protesters, many waving Chinese flags, streamed into Victoria Park in midafternoon before a planned march, and the contrast with a rally held July 1 by pro-democracy organizers was stark. Many, if not most of the participants in Sunday’s rally, were born in mainland China. Most were organized into groups corresponding to Chinese hometowns, schools or, in some cases, employers, easily identifiable with their matching T-shirts and hats. Middle-aged and elderly people dominated Sunday’s march, while young people dominated last month’s march.

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Hong Kong Newspaper Prints Fake Obituary of Rival’s Owner

Mike Forsythe and Alan Wong | 14 August 2014 | New York Times 

It was the journalistic equivalent of putting a horse’s head in your rival’s bed. Lai Chee-ying, 65, also known as Fatty Lai and a native of Shunde in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, had died of AIDS and cancer on Aug. 7. Since his family members were also sick, there would be no funeral.

So read the full-page obituary, in boldface Chinese characters, on page A7 of the Chinese-language Oriental Daily on Thursday. Although one character in the man’s name had been switched to another one with the same sound, the other biographical detailsmatched those of Jimmy Lai, owner of a rival newspaper, Apple Daily, and a well-known supporter of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. There was no indication that it was a paid advertisement. It offered condolences to the employees of “Two Media.” In Chinese, Apple Daily’s parent company uses characters whose literal translation is “One Media.”

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Laughing Off Threats in the Fight Against ‘Fake Democracy’

Didi Kirsten Tatlow | 13 August 2014 | New York Times

Chan Kin-man, a prominent Hong Kong democracy activist, receives many anonymous threats. He has gotten a razor blade in the mail and messages like: ‘‘Hunt and Kill Traitors!’’ Sophisticated hacking attempts occur daily, often from email addresses belonging to friends or students. Some threats are unprintable, about what the sender would like to do to Mr. Chan’s mother.

‘‘This guy sent it to me twice,’’ said Mr. Chan, sitting in his office at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he is a sociology professor, pulling out a letter from a folder. ‘‘He also likes my mother. Big fan of my mom.’’

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Beijing Growls at Hong Kong

25 June 2014 | New York Times

For the first time since the British handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, Beijing has unambiguously asserted its complete jurisdiction over Hong Kong.

A recent government paper reminded Hong Kong that whatever autonomy it has flows from the Chinese government and that the doctrine of “one country, two systems” implied in the original agreement allows Hong Kong to retain its capitalist system but does not confer political independence.

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Q. and A.: Michael Tien on Why He Thinks Occupy Central Is a Mistake

Michael Forsythe | 24 June 2014 | New York Times

Hong Kong democracy activists and many “pan-democratic” lawmakers are pushing for new rules for the 2017 election for the territory’s leader, the chief executive, under which any candidate who collects a certain number of signatures can get on the ballot. In the face of opposition from the central government in Beijing, they’re putting their support to the test this month, conducting an informal referendum to gauge public support. So far more than 730,000 votes have been cast in the 10-day poll, and its organizers have vowed to occupy Hong Kong’s central business district in protest if Beijing insists on an electoral system that limits the ballot to its approved candidates.

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China State Media Calls Hong Kong Vote ‘Mincing Ludicrousness’

Didi Kirsten Tatlow | 23 June 2014 | New York Times

“However many people take part in Hong Kong’s illegal public vote, there will never be as many as 1.3 billion,” the headline in the state-run newspaper Global Times declared on Monday.

That defiant line toward “Occupy Central with Peace and Love,” a movement that is holding an informal referendum on how the next leader of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory should be chosen, was comparing the number of votes cast, now surging past 700,000, to the size of China’s population. It suggested that no matter what Hong Kong people want, the Chinese mainland will always trump them. And it was contained in one of very few online posts about the democratic movement in Hong Kong that made it past heavy censorship in the rest of China.

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Poll on Democracy Draws Big Turnout in Hong Kong

Michael Forsythe, Chris Buckley | June 22 2014 | New York Times

HONG KONG — Participation in an informal poll to gauge Hong Kong’s desire for democracy is exceeding expectations, helped on Sunday by hundreds of volunteers who are reaching potential voters in subway stations and shopping malls, bringing American-style retail politics to one small corner of the People’s Republic of China.

Three days into a 10-day voting period, more than 689,000 ballots had been cast, equal to almost one-fifth of the number of registered votersin Hong Kong, a former British colony that was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

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Cyberattack on Hong Kong Vote Was Among Largest Ever, Security Chief Says

Alan Wong | 21 June 2014 | New York Times

The online voting platform for the unofficial referendum now underway on Hong Kong’s political future has been subjected to one of the most severe cyberattacks of its kind ever seen, according to the head of the Internet security company tasked with protecting it.

Matthew Prince, chief executive and co-founder of the San Francisco-based company CloudFlare, said in an email Friday that the distributed denial-of-service attack (also known as DDoS) on Occupy Central’s voting platform was “one of the largest and most persistent” ever.

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In Hong Kong, an Unofficial Election Draws Beijing’s Ire

Michael Forsythe, Chris Buckley, Alan Wong | 20 June 2014 | New York Times

HONG KONG — More than 350,000 residents of Hong Kong did something on Friday that no one in mainland China can do: They participated in a free vote over their political future. The Chinese government promptly responded by denouncing the entire exercise in bottom-up democracy as “illegal and invalid.”

The results are nonbinding because the poll is not official: It is a referendum held by a civic group on how the 7.2 million people in Hong Kong, a former British colony, will elect their head of government. The voting on Friday was through computers and mobile phones, with organizers saying they would have been pleased if 100,000 people had cast ballots over the entire 10-day voting period, which ends June 29.

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The New York Times: Michael C. Davis on the Battle Over Hong Kong’s Future

Chris Buckley | 19 June 2014 | The New York Times

Hong Kong is undergoing deepening tensions over its political future as a self-governed territory under Chinese sovereignty. Democratic activists have demanded that residents win the right to elect Hong Kong’s top leader, called the chief executive, without procedures that would ensure that only candidates approved by Beijing appear on the ballot. Many of the activists have endorsed Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a movement whose members have said they will stage civil disobedience protests in the city’s financial heart if electoral reform plans proposed by the Hong Kong government and Beijing, possibly later this year, do not meet their criteria for universal suffrage.

In an interview, Michael C. Davis, a professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, explained what is at stake.

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Q. and A.: Michael C. Davis on the Battle Over Hong Kong’s Future

Chris Buckley | 19 June 2014 | New York Times

Hong Kong is undergoing deepening tensions over its political future as a self-governed territory under Chinese sovereignty. Democratic activists have demanded that residents win the right to elect Hong Kong’s top leader, called the chief executive, without procedures that would ensure that only candidates approved by Beijing appear on the ballot. Many of the activists have endorsed Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a movement whose members have said they will stage civil disobedience protests in the city’s financial heart if electoral reform plans proposed by the Hong Kong government and Beijing, possibly later this year, do not meet their criteria for universal suffrage.

Starting Friday, Occupy Central will hold an unofficial referendum giving residents a choice of rival plans for voting procedures, and it plans later to support a similar vote pitting the winning proposal against the government’s proposal. Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party has been attempting to consolidate its influence over Hong Kong and is worried about the ferment of opposition, as are pro-establishment politicians and business groups in the city. In an interview, Michael C. Davis, a professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, explained what is at stake:

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Pro-Democracy Media Company’s Websites Attacked

Alan Wong | 18 June 2014 | New York Times

Next Media, which publishes Apple Daily, an independent Hong Kong newspaper often critical of the Chinese government, saw the largest attack ever against the company’s websites on Wednesday, taking the group’s websites offline for hours.

“The scale is so big that it overwhelmed the DDoS protection service provider we hired to prevent an outage like this,” said Tim Yiu, Next Media’s chief operating officer. In a DDoS, or distributed denial-of-service, attack, hackers command swarms of computers to generate an enormous flood of traffic to knock out the target websites. Mr. Yiu said he received the first reports of the attack at about 2 a.m., and access to Apple Daily’s Hong Kong website was brought to a near halt for about 12 hours. He expected full web services to resume by Thursday afternoon.

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Hong Kong Publisher’s Prison Sentence Is Called a Political Vendetta

Chris Buckley | 7 May 2014 | New York Times

HONG KONG — Rejecting defense arguments for leniency, a court in southern China sentenced a Hong Kong publisher to 10 years in prison on Wednesday for smuggling industrial chemicals. The family and supporters of the publisher, Yiu Mantin, has said the charges were a political vendetta brought on by his plans to publish a book condemning the Chinese Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping.

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