HONG KONG—Public discontent has reached an all-time high in Hong Kong, 15 years after its handover to China, as the city experiences greater interference in local affairs by the Chinese administration.
Chinese leader Hu Jintao arrived in Hong Kong on June 29 to attend the 15th anniversary festivities and swear in the next chief executive of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying.
Leung faces an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) over six illegal building additions that were discovered at his luxury residence last week. Leung could face charges of making false statements during the election period, as he had denied having any unauthorized construction on his property during his run for chief executive. Rumors that Leung is an underground member of the Chinese Communist Party have further fueled public distrust.
Protesters showed up near the airport on Friday, but when they attempted to unfurl several banners, police arrived to stop them, leading to a scuffle between the two parties. The group of protesters included members of the political party League of Social Democrats.
Security remained tight at the hotel where Hu was staying in Wan Chai. Groups of police officers were seen patrolling the premises, while heavy plastic barricades have been set up around the hotel to ensure that protestors would remain out of Hu’s sight.
The pro-democracy group Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (“The Alliance”) set up a truck to follow Hu throughout his entire stay, which will allow members of the group to keep up their protests wherever he goes. The truck is decorated with banners that read, “Redress the June 4th Massacre” and “We Urge Hu Jintao to Conduct A Thorough Investigation into the Death of Li Wangyang.” Suspicious circumstances surrounding the Chinese dissident’s death sparked widespread protests throughout Hong Kong earlier this month.
The Alliance also parked its truck near Hu’s hotel, where chairman of The Alliance Lee Cheuk-yan continually shouted slogans through a microphone. He said that he hopes Hu will be able to hear their grievances and see the banners that represent their pleas for democracy.
Many more protesters are expected to take part in the annual July 1 march, which was organized after the turnover to China in 1997. Last year’s march drew over 100,000 participants.
This year, the march route has been restricted by the police, only allowing protestors to hold their rally in an area outside Central Plaza, when they have traditionally ended the march at a pedestrian walkway near the plaza. The police cited anti-terrorist measures as their reasoning for restricting the protesters. But Lee, as chairman of one of the organizing groups for the march, believes the police are using the excuse “to restrict our freedom of association… our constitutional rights.”Hu Jintao is also expected to make a visit to the People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison on Friday afternoon. In the evening, Hu will attend a welcome dinner at the Government House, the official residence of the chief executive. The inauguration ceremony for the 4th chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will take place Sunday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.
With reporting by Lam Yih and Leung Lou-si.
Read original Chinese article.
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