HK Protesters to Vote on Gov’t Proposals

HK Protesters to Vote on Gov’t ProposalsHK Protesters to Vote on Gov’t Proposals

Protest leaders in Hong Kong are to ballot their supporters over whether to accept the government’s proposals and end their occupation of the city.

The protest leaders had previously rejected the government’s offer to set up a platform for debating reform and to report to Beijing on the protests.

They said a strong show of support for this stance would help them in their negotiations with the government.

The protests began in September.

On Tuesday, student protest leaders and government officials held talks for the first time, but made little progress towards ending the impasse, according to the BBC.

The government, represented by deputy leader Carrie Lam, offered to send a report to Chinese government officials reflecting the protesters’ views, and set up a platform to facilitate dialogue on future constitutional changes.

But she stressed that Hong Kong could not “decide on its own its political development” because it was a special administrative region within China.

Alex Chow, leader of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) protest movement, said after that meeting that the government’s offer “does not have any practical content”.

But on Thursday evening, he told supporters camped outside government offices in the Admiralty area of Hong Kong - which they have renamed Democracy Plaza - that they would be able to have their say on the proposals.

Benny Tai, a founder of the Occupy movement which has also been central to the protests, said the results of the vote would be used to bargain with the government.

“We will be able to better represent the people and take the initiative on behalf of them,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

Hong Kong’s RTHK reported that the vote - set for Sunday - will be held electronically.

Though numbers have fallen significantly since the early days, a hard core of demonstrators - mostly students - have said they will not give up their occupation of central areas until China changes its mind on the rules for Hong Kong’s 2017 election. They also want Chief Executive CY Leung to stand down.

The Chinese government has ruled that candidates for the chief executive election must be vetted by a nominating committee dominated by pro-Beijing groups. The protesters say they should be allowed a wholly free choice of candidate.

Chinese and Hong Kong leaders say the street protest is illegal.