Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong continued today and are expected to escalate through China’s National Day holiday on Wednesday. Chinese authorities have called the “Occupy Central” demonstrations illegal, blocking that phrase on the Twitterlike service Weibo and shutting down Instagram on the mainland. The number of censored posts on Weibo, by one account, was twice as great over the weekend as during this 25th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre earlier this year. (Social media appears to be running unfettered in Hong Kong itself.) From Reuters:
Organisers have said that as many as 80,000 people have thronged the streets after the protests flared on Friday night. No independent estimate of numbers was available.
The protests, with no single identifiable leader, bring together a mass movement of mostly tech-savvy students who have grown up with freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China…
Protesters say there should be open nominations for candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 leadership election. China’s rubber-stamp parliament endorsed a framework on Aug. 31 that ensured only pro-Beijing candidates.
The Chinese government warned other nations not to praise the movement:
“We are resolutely opposed to any foreign country using any method to interfere in China’s internal affairs. We are also resolutely opposed to any country, attempting in any way to support such illegal activities like ‘Occupy Central’.”
On National Day, demonstrators are also expected in nearby Macau, also a former foreign territory.
“If today I don’t stand up, I will hate myself in future,” a 55-year-old taxi driver in Hong Kong told Reuters about the protests, which have been nicknamed the “Umbrella Revolution” because of the items carried by activists to protect themselves against the sun (and against pepper spray and tear gas). “Even if I get a criminal record it will be a glorious one.”