12/06/2005, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA

Chinese premier "concerned" after Hong Kong march

Currently on an official visit in Paris, Wen Jiabao expressed hope that development in Hong King "and eventual universal suffrage" can be reached "through the law". The Chinese media did not cover the demonstration at all.

 

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – China's premier, Wen Jiabao, has said he is "very concerned' about the situation in Hong Kong and its political development. Wen is in Paris as part of an official tour of European capitals. He made his statement on Monday, the day after the march for universal suffrage drew 250,000 people on the streets to call for democracy in the territory. The protest was completely ignored by all the Chinese media.

"I sincerely hope the people of Hong Kong can adhere to the Basic Law [Hong Kong's mini-constitution – ndr] and the requirements set out by the NPC Standing Committee," he told journalists. "In this way, the principle of gradual progress may be adopted to promote Hong Kong's democratic political development, to be conducive to the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong as well as the eventual attainment of universal suffrage."

Sunday's demonstration did not feature at all in Chinese national media. The main story in the Hong Kong section of the website of Xinhua, the official press agency, was about local coral reefs. The same section of the China News Service was dominated by news items describing security arrangements in the territory in the lead-up to a meeting of the World Trade Organisation slated for next week. Sina and Sohu, the largest Chinese portal websites, did not publish anything about the former colony.

Annie Zhou, a 24-year-old government research centre employee, said from Guangzhou – the capital of the southern Guangdong province which is a few km away from the Hong Kong coast – that she "had heard" about a march.

Ms Zhou said: "I watched three other channels from TVB and ATV but there was no coverage that afternoon."

A survey undertaken in Guangzhou and Shenzhen revealed that 14 out of every 20 people interviewed knew nothing about the matter. A journalist in Guangdong said: "I didn't know there was a big march in Hong Kong but I would be interested in it because Hong Kong's marches are always connected with state policy".

Kou Zuomin, a 30-year-old architect living in Shenzhen, said he knew about the march from a Singapore website. "I think the Hong Kong community is mature enough for universal suffrage because Hong Kong has well educated citizens and a sound legal system," Mr Kou said.

Sunday's march received extensive coverage from main television stations around the world (including CNN, BBC e Al Jazeera) and its impact and motives were discussed the following day by the American and European press.

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