Explaining the unrest in Hong Kong

JISHOU, HUNAN — If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve probably heard about the protests in Hong Kong. Media accounts are portraying this as anti-Bejing, but the unrest has much broader objectives than telling the mainland government to mind its own business. Occupy Central is essentially an effort for universal suffrage, which Hong Kong has never had. Nevertheless, an important side issue is the extent to which the mainland government will have control over local politics. Historical background Before 1997 Hong Kong was directly ruled as a colony of the United Kingdom by a viceroy appointed by the monarch. The viceroy — known as the Governor of Hong Kong — appointed other government officials, including members of the advisory Legislative Council (LegCo). Indirect elections of LegCo members began in 1985, and beginning in 1995, 35 of the 70 members are now chosen through direct elections. British control of HK ended in 1997, and Hong Kong once again became a territory of China as a Special Administrative Region (SAR). Replacing the Governor was a Chief Executive with essentially the same civil powers. A 1200-member Election Committee, whose members are appointed by the mainland’s Central People’s Government, chooses the Chief Executive by ...

Protesters in Guangzhou demand greater freedom of press in China

JISHOU, HUNAN — Government censorship of the Guangzhou newspaper Southern Weekend prompted a walk-out and public protest by the newspaper’s staff, a rare event in China. Even more remarkable: the police didn’t shut it down. Two journalists from The Economist’s China desk explain what’s going on in Guangzhou, and talk about civil rights matters in China. (The video will play automatically once you open the complete post. My efforts to stop autoplay failed.)

Despite Fox News hype, tax day protests are duds

JISHOU, HUNAN — The national TEA Party protests flopped. The anti-tax/anti-Obama rallies — Taxed Enough Already Parties — were supposed to represent a coming “revolution” against the sitting president’s policies and the “overtaxation” of the American populace, like the Boston Tea Party of 1773. In that famous incident, the protest was against the Tea Act, which imposed tariffs on tea bound for Britain. The Boston Tea Party was a spontaneous protest against taxation without representation, one of the main complaints of the colonists. By comparison, the modern day TEA Parties were hardly impressive. Fox Noise’s Sean Hannity hyped the parties on the air, and other right-wingers predicted a groundswell of grassroots activism against the Obama administration’s attempts to stimulate the economy by spending government money. Instead, local rallies had puny attendance. Here are some estimates I pulled off news sites. New York Times 16/4/09 Philadelphia, Penn. 200 Pensacola, Fla. 500 Austin., Texas 1,000 Houston, Texas 2,000 Boston, Mass. 500+ Newsday 15/4/09 Massapequa, NY 300 CBS News 15/4/09 Declan McCullagh blog San Francisco “a crowd of hundreds” USA Today 15/4/09 Des Moines, Iowa 1,000 Cincinnati, Ohio 4,000 Lansing, Mich. 4,000 Hartford, Conn. 3,000 New Haven, Conn. 1,000 Montgomery Ala. 1,000+ Frankfort, ...
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