Preparatory Talks Underway in Hong Kong but Umbrella Movement Is Far From Over
HONG KONG—Preparatory talks are under way in Hong Kong between the student protesters and the government, but all signs suggest that normal life is not returning to Hong Kong anytime soon.
On Oct. 6, during the second round of preparatory talks between student representatives from the the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Ray Lau, Undersecretary of the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, both sides have agreed to have multiple rounds of discussion, with both sides on an equal footing, and with any agreement to be enforced by the government.
Yet students are wary of the officials speaking to them.
— Peter Y. Chuang (@peterychuang) October 6, 2014
In April 2010 Ray Lau declared on the television program City Forum that Radio TV Hong Kong should play the dual roles of being the mouthpiece and supervisor of the Hong Kong government, which angered many people in Hong Kong. Radio Television Hong Kong is the public broadcaster of Hong Kong.
The voting record of Lau during his tenure as legislator of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong does not bode well for the students’ demands.
Lau voted against legislative bills on “Defending press freedom,” “Taking a positive stand on the demands by citizens participating in the July 1 march,” “Addressing the 20th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square Massacre,” and “Improving social stability by breaking up the monopolies.”
“To reduce violence and reduce casualties, police will take action at the appropriate moment,” Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said just hours before the two sides met to plan the upcoming talks. “I encourage students, bystanders and others to leave high-risk areas as soon as possible.”
One person offering an overture towards the students was Tung Chee-wha, former chief executive of Hong Kong, and vice chairman of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee.
“You guys have left behind everything to participate in the occupying movement and fight for democracy. You have made great sacrifices,” wrote Tung in a statement entitled “A Call to Those Students and Young People by Tung Chee-hwa.”
“For students and young people who take part in the protest, we have heard your democratic demands. We have heard them loud and clear,’ wrote Tung. “We understand your unwavering quest for ideals.”
That Tung addressed himself as “we” instead of “I” suggests the Chinese authorities would share his view to some extent, according to Apple Daily. In September this year, Tung Chee-hwa led a delegation of business leaders in Hong Kong to meet with Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.
80 faculty members, including To Yiu-Ming, assistant professor in the Department of Journalism at Hong Kong Baptist University, issued a statement asking the government to take a step back and calm down. It asks the government to talk to the students and respond to their demands to avoid further social division on Oct. 5.
“Leung has not been willing to give in an inch. Every time there is a dialogue opportunity, something would happen, like thugs attacking peaceful protesters,” said Professor To.