China

Hong Kong protests: Activists march to CY Leung's house

  • 22 October 2014
  • From the section China
Media captionJuliana Liu spoke to some of the protesters on the streets of Hong Kong

Pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong have marched to the residence of the territory's leader, criticising his stance on democratic reform.

The protesters were also angered by CY Leung's recent comments, where he argued that poorer residents should not be given too much political influence.

Pro-democracy protesters have been on Hong Kong's streets for three weeks, paralysing some key roads.

Activists and government officials held talks for the first time on Tuesday.

However, the first round of talks showed little signs of ending the impasse.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Protesters outside CY Leung's residence hold signs criticising his remarks about the poor

'Numbers game'

Correspondents say about 200 protesters marched to Mr Leung's official residence, Government House, on Wednesday.

Many were angered by Mr Leung's comments in an interview on Monday, where he said fully democratic elections would lead to populist policies, as poorer residents would have a dominant voice in politics.

"If it's entirely a numbers game and numeric representation, then obviously you would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 (£1,110) a month," he said.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Hundreds of protesters have set up tents at key sites in Hong Kong

These startlingly frank remarks have not gone down well with many demonstrators, who see it as proof that the political system is rigged on behalf of the rich, the BBC's Juliana Liu in Hong Kong reports.

It tallies with the narrative of the city as a place where the gap between rich and poor - which is one of the highest in Asia - is rising, our correspondent adds.

On Wednesday, the government issued a statement saying that Mr Leung was required to "take into account the needs of all sectors with equal importance... instead of just the needs of the largest community".

It added that he attached "great importance to the livelihood of the grassroots".

The pro-democracy demonstrators are angered by a Chinese government ruling that said all candidates for Hong Kong's 2017 chief executive elections must be vetted by a nominating committee dominated by pro-Beijing groups.

They have described this as a "fake democracy".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A man holds a yellow umbrella, which has come to symbolise the protest movement, outside Government House

The protests, known as the Occupy Central movement, drew tens of thousands to the streets at their peak.

Numbers have dwindled since then, but hundreds remained at protest camps in the districts of Mong Kok, Admiralty and Causeway Bay.

Local businesses and residents have criticised the disruption caused by the protests.

On Wednesday, there were brief scuffles as a group of men tried to dismantle the barricades set up by protesters in Mong Kok, prompting the police to separate the two sides.

A poll has suggested that public opinion on Occupy Central is split, with 38% supporting the protests, and 36% opposed, local media report (in Chinese).

On Tuesday, government representatives met student leaders who were representing the protests for two hours of televised talks.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Student activists and Hong Kong officials met for televised talks on Tuesday

Government negotiators said the protesters' demands were impossible, while student activists accused the government of being "vague".

Hong Kong's Chief Secretary Carrie Lam told the students that the government would send a report to Chinese government officials reflecting the protesters' views, and set up a platform to facilitate dialogue on future constitutional changes.

However, she stressed that Hong Kong could not "decide on its own its political development" because it was a special administrative region within China.

The student leaders, meanwhile, argued that the public should be able to nominate candidates for Hong Kong's elections, and that the nominating committee outlined by the Chinese government was not representative enough.

Student leader Alex Chow said after the meeting: "The government has to come up with some way to solve this problem, but what they are offering does not have any practical content."