07/02/2012, 00.00
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Hong Kong, Human Rights March drowns out Hu Jintao appeals for harmony

by Paul Hong
Approximately 400 thousand people - according to organizers - attended the march on 1 July. Criticisms of the new head of government, accused of corruption, high cost of politics to violence against dissident Li Wangyang, who "committed suicide" while in the custody of Chinese police. Hu Jinta’s official opening discourse interrupted, criticism of Liberation Army stationed in Hong Kong; assault on the barricades of the hotel where Hu was staying.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Tens of thousands - perhaps hundreds of thousands - of people demonstrated yesterday in the center of Hong Kong during the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao. The huge flow of protesters were demanding more democracy for the region and respect for human rights in the mainland.  Earlier that morning Hu Jintao was present at the oath of new chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, whom he asked to overcome divisions and grow "harmony and stability" in response to the "needs of the population" and paying attention to "social tensions".

Hu Jintao was visiting Hong Kong to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the return of the territory to the motherland. The main ceremony, with chosen guests, was held yesterday morning at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. A member of the Democratic Party, Ken Tsang Kin-chiu managed to stop the Chinese president's speech, shouting loudly: "Justice for the Tiananmen massacre! An end to the single party rule!".  He even managed to hang a banner before it took 10 guards and drag him out. He was released shortly afterwards.

In the afternoon, with scorching heat, a march of tens of thousands of people - 400 thousand according to organizers, 60 thousand according to the police - wound from Victoria Park to Central. It took more than four hours for the procession to complete the circuit. The reasons for the march are different: criticism on the mechanism for choosing the chief executive (a large group of 1200 voters, led by Beijing); criticism of Leung Chun-ying, the new chief executive, following discoveries in the illegal construction of his house and because he is too pro-Beijing; criticism over the death of dissident Li Wangyang, hero of Tiananmen, who apparently "committed suicide" while in custody of Chinese police, criticism of the high price of housing, which has brough many families in Hong Kong to their knees.

In the speech of the morning, Hu Jintao reiterated the policy of "One Country, Two Systems", , which allows Hong Kong a higher standard of living and more freedom than the homeland. But in these 15 years, China's control over the Territory has increased in economic, political and military terms. Many activists have criticized the show of force two days ago, by Hu Jintao, who marched in a parade with the garrison of the Liberation Army stationed in Hong Kong.

Some protestors have even tried to storm the fence around the hotel where Hu was staying.

The events of July 1 have become a tradition since 2003. That year, the Government of Hong Kong, headed by Tung Chee-hwa, had prepared a law (the Art. 23), which blocked many of the freedoms of association and speech. The 2003 event was attended by over half a million people. Tung Chee-hwa had to cancel the law.


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