Some banks, including HSBC and Standard Chartered, have shut down their branches in Hong Kong after thousands of citizens took the streets on Sunday protesting against the strict electoral system enforced by the Chinese government.
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The protests are part of an initiative by Occupy Central, which called for an era of civil disobedience against electoral changes made by Beijing, ahead of the 2017 election of the next national chief executive.
Hong Kong enjoys a special status of autonomous city, under the “one country, two systems” rule and has a different judicial and political systems to those of China, since 1997 when Britain handed it over to the Asian giant.
The country has always enjoyed independent courts and a free press. However, candidates for the 2017 elections would have to be screened by China first, something that the protesters oppose, demanding they be able to choose their own people.
More than 40 branches of banks including Barclays, HSBC, Bank of China and Citibanks had to be closed down in one of the world’s most influent financial hubs as pro-democracy activists blocked the streets and squares and clashed with the police.
The move caused a drop in Hong Kong stocks, with both HSBC and Standard Chartered losing percentage points.
While many are drawing comparisons between current social unrest and 1989 Tiananmen protests, Chinese media have been told not to cover the story. Beijing labelled the protests as “illegal” and invited the authorities to take action.Speaking to the Guardian, Michael Davis, a professor at Hong Kong University who took part to the demonstration, said “We are talking about a society that has lived under freedom, a free press, and free markets for as long as they can remember. Now they are told they are going to have some kind of ‘mainland style’ democracy.”Photo: Erwin Soo via Flickr
Erwin Soo via Flickr
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