China has changed the electoral system in Hong Kong so that, in the 2017 Hong Kong chief executive election, a candidate running for office must be endorsed by more than half of a 1,200-member election committee that is dominated by pro-Beijing elites. This effectively ensures that the five million eligible voters in Hong Kong can not vote for any candidate that is not pre-approved by Beijing.
In response, the Hong Kong Federation of Students held a rally at Chinese University today to kick-start a five-day boycott of classes, vowing to intensify their campaign by blockading the Central financial district, among other plans. More than 13,000 students, academics, and administrators from at least 25 tertiary institutions have pledged support. 學民思潮 Scholarism is planning to lead more than 100 teenagers in a week-long boycott of secondary school lessons starting from September 26.
The students are meeting resistance. The Hong Kong Post has refused to send out Scholarism’s leaflets explaining civil disobedience, and some schools have warned students that they will be penalized for skipping classes. A citizens’ group has set up a hotline for people to report students who skip classes. However, the students are determined to continue their acts of civil disobedience until Hong Kong obtains true democracy.
“The Communist Party has always been afraid of students because of our ideals, because we stick to our convictions… I want to tell them: It’s going to be a long game ahead.”