Hong Kong votes amid anti-China sentiment
HONG KONG - ReutersHong Kong residents voted for a new legislature yesterday, a day after the territory’s Beijing-backed leader backed down on a plan to introduce a compulsory Chinese school curriculum after tens of thousands of people took to the streets.
Some 3.4 million of the city’s seven million people are eligible to directly elect just over half the seats in the 70-seat legislative council at a time when anger over perceived Chinese influence in the former British colony is growing.
Yesterday’s polls are a rough barometer of public support for Leung Chun-ying and his pro-Beijing allies on the one hand, and the opposition pro-democracy camp on the other, which is seeking to maintain its one third majority to give it veto power over policies. A host of China-linked controversies have dealt a blow to Leung and may help bolster the pro-democracy parties at the ballots, analysts say, making it more difficult for his administration to enact policies in a fractious legislative council.
On Sept. 8, Leung backed down on the plan for compulsory patriotism classes, saying they would no longer be mandatory, after protesters described the curriculum as Chinese Communist Party-style propaganda aimed at indoctrinating children.
Hong Kong is a freewheeling capitalist hub which enjoys a high degree of autonomy, but Beijing has resisted public pressure for full democracy and has maintained a high degree of influence in political, media and academic spheres.