12/19/2014, 00.00
MACAU - HONG KONG - CHINA
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Occupy effect: umbrellas banned during Xi Jinping's visit to Macau (despite the rain)

by Paul Wang
Hong Kong activists were expelled from the former Portuguese colony. At the Macau Ferry Pier, people opened their umbrellas to demand freedom for all Chinese political prisoners. Opponents to Occupy are up (plus 9 per cent, to 38). Some 43.1 per cent are opposed to China's electoral reform. At least 1.2 million people took part in the Occupy protest.

Macau (AsiaNews) - Macau welcomed today Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan in the rain. China's president and first lady are in the former Portuguese colony for two days to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the territory's return to the fatherland.

Despite the rain, the authorities banned umbrellas at the reception ceremony; instead, visitors, including the two guests of honour, were provided with raincoats

Umbrellas became a symbol for Hong Kong's Occupy Central protests after protesters used them to protect themselves from Hong Kong police using pepper spray and water cannon.

Although the 'umbrella revolution' and Occupy sit-in may be over, the fears of the Chinese and Macao governments remain.

Within half-an-hour of Xi's arrival, Hong Kong activists who at arrived at the Macau ferry pier were sent back.

Four reporters from the Apple Daily, which is linked to Jimmy Lai, a businessman who backs the pro-democracy movement, were also denied entry.

Lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, known for his pro-democracy activism, and some of his collaborators (pictured), were turned back at the Macau ferry pier, Hong Kong.

There, they raised their yellow umbrellas to call for true democracy in Hong Kong and Macau and the release of all political prisoners, in particular Chinese activists arrested for their show of support for Occupy.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Occupy Central movement has already sparked research as scholars study its action in favour of universal suffrage, the two-month sit-ins that blocked some of Hong Kong's central areas and its criticism of Beijing's prerogative to choose candidates.

A survey by the Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey at the Chinese University of Hong Kong's School of Journalism, cited by the Hong Kong Economic Journal, shows that 38 per cent of respondents supported Beijing's proposal on electoral reform, up 9 percentage points from early September, i.e. before the Occupy protests, welcome news for the pro-Beijing camp.

However, 43.1 percent of respondents still wanted pan-democratic lawmakers to veto the proposal, which has been criticised for, in effect, screening out candidates from the democratic camp in the 2017 election for the city's chief executive.

The survey also shows that at least 76.2 per cent of respondents is opposed to the occupation of public spaces with 33.9 per cent in favour.

The survey found 20.1 percent of the respondents had shown up at the Occupy sites, which worked out to 1.2 million Hongkongers taking part in the protests.

Ivan Choi, a political commentator at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the government could not pretend nothing had happened and ignore the strong demand for change.

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