What you need to know about the protest in Hong Kong

What you need to know about the protest in Hong Kong

A guide to the major issues and people in the dispute

Pro-democracy activists brace themselves during a drill to simulate the scenario of being sprayed with a water cannon at the upcoming "Occupy Central" movement rally in Hong Kong

Pro-democracy activists brace themselves during a drill to simulate the scenario of being sprayed with a water cannon at the upcoming “Occupy Central” movement rally in Hong Kong. (The Associated Press)

HONG KONG — Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong are drawing thousands of mostly young residents of this former British colony into the streets in a massive but peaceful movement of civil resistance to Beijing’s plans to screen candidates for the post of the city’s leader, or chief executive.

Here are the major issues and people in the dispute:

China took control in 1997 after agreeing to a policy of “one country, two systems” that gives the financial hub of 7.1 million a high degree of control over its own affairs and allows residents civil liberties absent on the Communist-ruled mainland. During Hong Kong’s 156 years under British rule, London chose the city’s governor in an arrangement that faced virtually no opposition, but residents now want more say in their government and future.

The protesters are unhappy that Beijing has rejected open nominations for candidates for the first-ever elections for Hong Kong’s leader, promised for 2017. China wants candidates to be chosen by a committee of mostly pro-Beijing tycoons, a requirement many residents see as a reversal of promises for more democracy in their semi-autonomous territory. Some protesters are calling for the city’s unpopular chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, to step down.

The protests began over a week ago as college students boycotted classes, but have gained support from other residents and political activists as the demonstrations spread across the city. On Sunday, police used pepper spray and tear gas to try to stop people from joining students who had gathered near the city government headquarters two days earlier. By Monday, thousands were still occupying major streets downtown, as police stood watch but took no overt action to force them out.

Since Xi Jinping took over as China’s president in 2013, the country’s leaders have tightened restrictions on public dissent, even in social media, imposing harsh prison sentences on activists and others seen as a threat to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power. The current protests, however, have created a political problem for Beijing. While China has to be careful not to crack down too harshly on the demonstrators in Hong Kong, whose free press ensures global visibility, it also is eager to end the protests in order to avoid emboldening mainland Chinese. So far, China has condemned the protests, but has not intervened.

Leung Chun-ying, also known as C.Y. Leung, is a private businessman and former real estate executive with long-standing ties to Beijing. He has appealed to protesters to withdraw for the sake of Hong Kong’s image and stability.

Joshua Wong, a 17-year-old student protester, was a leader of the “Scholarism” movement, which opposed plans to require moral and patriotic education in Hong Kong. He was dragged away by police soon after students stormed into the government headquarters complex late Friday and was released from detention Sunday evening.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate law professor at the University of Hong Kong, began the peaceful civil disobedience movement Occupy Central With Love and Peace _ usually referred to as simply Occupy Central _ to resist Beijing’s tightening of its grip on the city and demand universal suffrage.

Billionaire businessman Li Ka-shing, Asia’s wealthiest person, was among dozens of tycoons summoned to Beijing last week for meetings with top leaders as the political tensions in Hong Kong mounted. So far, Hong Kong’s capitalists have remained in the background as the protests have gathered momentum.

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What you need to know about the protest in Hong Kong

  1. This protest is just what China’s leaders needed. As greed, corruption, and property prices spiral out of control, often spearheaded by Hong Kong’s role as a leading international financial centre that depends on the American dollar continuing to be the world’s foreign reserve, you can expect the central government to impose a silent boycott to severely reduce (cripple) Hong Kong’s influence — an action that will do several things:
    * Slow China’s rapid growth to a manageable level without causing the economic depression that inevitably happens as part of the business cycle after reckless growth;
    * Speed up the BRICS international efforts to replace the American dollar’s control with a new reserve currency;
    * Teach other regions in China that China is not a confederation of states that can do what they want, but one nation that will not tolerate dissent that could tear it apart.

    As for a new world reserve currency, the following by Chris Ferreira of Economic Reason:
    World Reserve Currencies: What Happened During Previous Periods of Transition?
    The decline of the US dollar hegemony is ever so clear today and this article aims to provide the reader with what exactly happened during past periods of reserve currency transitions. Historically, when a reserve currency transitioned over to a new one, it marked a pivotal change for the world. The economic paradigm shifted and the rules of the game changed. This time will be no different when the US dollar loses its status as the reserve currency!
    The transition process of the world reserve currency brings much uncertainty
    Throughout history, a transition of the reserve currencies has always brought about turmoil and uncertainty in financial markets. One country’s decline, and the subsequent rise of another, marks a radical transformation for the world, especially as market demand shifts. The country that dominates global commerce during any given period is usually marked with the status of having the reserve currency. Spain and Portugal dominated the 15th and 16th centuries, the Netherlands the 17th century, France and Britain the 18th and 19th centuries, and the US dominated the 20th century.