09/06/2012, 00.00
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National education in Hong Kong: protests continue, Chief Executive won’t be at ASEAN

While the demonstrations against the reform entering a seventh consecutive day, Leung Chun-ying cancels his participation at the summit in Vladivostok. New hunger strikes , government proposal’s for reform within “two to three days”.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The protests against "national education" classes have forced the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Leung Chun-ying to cancel his participation in the ASEAN summit - the first visit abroad since he took office - a few hours before leaving for Vladivostok. While the mass demonstrations are now in their seventh consecutive day, the Territory Government have yet to give answers to the people on the disputed education reform.

Parents, students and teachers have launched a strike against the new subject, which should "uphold" the economic successes of mainland China without discussing issues such as the Tiananmen Square crackdown or the human rights situation in the country. Launched by the central government in 2002, the reform was immediately opposed by the Catholic Church, according to Cardinal Zen, it is a "brainwashing" of students.

According to an official, Leung cancelled the trip to "focus on his domestic commitments." In the area of ​​Admiralty, where there are government offices are located and where there is an ongoing sit-in protest against the reform school, the news was met with sarcasm. Lau, a woman who joined the students on strike, says, "Leung should come out and face the students, but he will not. If he wanted to listen to them, he would have done so days ago." Of Leung, a student, said: "cancelling the trip is just for show."

Ivan Choy, a political analyst at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, has a different opinion: "Under normal circumstances, you can't avoid this meeting. This will raise a lot of speculation. Does it mean there are serious governance issues in Hong Kong?"

In the meantime, a group of demonstrators camped at Admiralty are still on hunger strike. James Hon Lin-shan, of the teachers union, is 63 years old and this morning marked 108 hours of total fast. His analysis is wise and he cares little for Leung's cancelled trip: "Wherever Leung goes doesn't matter to me. But he should respond to our demands."  9 other people are on hunger strike with him.

In an attempt to break the siege, the Chief Executive has asked the protesters to join the committee appointed by the government to draw up reform and propose some changes: within two or three days, Leung is expected to announce some steps in this direction. The protesters, however, declined the invitation, as the Committee "serves only Beijing's interests."

In any case, the population are united against the government not only over the educational reform. House prices have risen by 88% since 2009, due to record low interest rates on loans from mainland China and the consequent rush to purchase property on the former British colony. According to Savills Pls, this year Hong Kong is the most expensive place in the world to buy a house.


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