More than a thousand people attended a rally in Hong Kong on Sunday to urge people and governments abroad to support the city’s pro-democracy movement and oppose China’s ruling Communist Party.
Representatives of allied activist groups from Canada, Europe and Taiwan made remarks and led the attendees in chants of “Fight for freedom! Stand with Hong Kong!”
Speakers also celebrated the results of Saturday’s presidential election in Taiwan that saw the Democratic Progressive Party’s Tsai Ing-wen voted to a second term in a landslide.
Months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, have driven home to many in Taiwan the contrast between their democratically governed island and authoritarian mainland China.
“The Taiwanese demonstrated how peaceful it could be if we have democracy,” said rally organizer Ventus Lau.
“And we have to understand the Taiwanese fought hard in previous decades so that they can have this power today,” Lau said. “So if we want to have democracy like them, we need to fight hard and to continue our fight with the Communist Party.”
A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997. Under the framework of “one country, two systems,” the city enjoys greater democratic rights than those on the mainland, but protesters say those freedoms have been steadily eroding under Chinese President Xi Jinping.
A 20-year-old student at the rally with the surname Lee said Hong Kong citizens should have the right to choose their leader.
“The current chief executive (Carrie Lam) is not elected by all Hong Kong citizens,” Lee said. “So even though Hong Kong citizens want the chief executive to resign or do anything, the chief executive can just ignore our voices, and just listen to what Beijing said.”
Universal suffrage is among the five demands protesters are advocating, along with an independent investigation into alleged police brutality.
Alice Fung, The Associated Press