Now Playing Tracks

humanrightswatch:

Political Earthquake in Hong Kong

A political earthquake is underway now in Hong Kong. On the streets of Central over the last two days, the tectonic plate of pro-democracy protests has ground up against the plate of police in riot gear, rupturing what had been an uneasy calm in the wake of Beijing making clear its disdain for its treaty promise that Hong Kong would have a “high degree of autonomy.”

Some of the images of large numbers of students, assembled calmly, arguing for the merits of democracy and transparency, expressing fears of corruption and loss of political rights have been eerily reminiscent of Beijing in the spring 1989. But the hope in Hong Kong has been that a very different outcome can be accomplished: quite simply, to allow people in Hong Kong to retain control over most decisions affecting the territory. 

The proximate struggle now is for popular nomination for Hong Kong’s highest position, which Beijing has resisted because democrats and populists critical of the central government have always been among the most popular political figures in Hong Kong. Some protestors are now demanding the immediate resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung; others are sticking with their original demand for reform of the electoral and political systems.

But the jarring photos of police using tear gas and pepper spray on protestors, as well as the fact that Joshua Wong, a 17-year-old democracy supporter, has now been held by police for two days, suggest that authorities’ responses in the coming days and their larger consequences are far from clear. It is uncertain precisely what has been explicitly dictated by Beijing, but it is difficult to imagine mainland authorities giving in to this kind of public pressure.

They may now find themselves wishing they had accepted the prospect of a pro-democracy chief executive in Hong Kong as the lesser of two evils, but now the stakes are that much higher: is Beijing ready to let people across China see that large-scale demonstrations will elicit key political concessions? This seems inconceivable.

The tectonic plates aren’t done shifting yet, and protestors remain on the streets. Much in the longer-term will depend on police exercising restraint in the use of force, and refraining from detaining demonstrators who pose no real threat to public order. But even if that is achieved, the aftershocks are likely to hit—wave on wave, in Hong Kong and the mainland and beyond—for a long time to come. 

Photo: Riot police fire teargas to disperse protesters after thousands demonstrated in the main street to the financial Central district. © 2014 Reuters

The police crackdown Sunday not only failed to dislodge protesters from a major thoroughfare in the heart of Hong Kong but appeared Monday to have motivated more people to join the student-led protests. A government announcement that the riot police had been withdrawn from the protest centers also seemed to open the door to growing demonstrations. The number of protesters, which had ebbed overnight, swelled again by midday Monday, as office workers in slacks and dress shirts mixed with crowds of students in black T-shirts.

Many of the new arrivals said they were angered by the police’s actions on Sunday, which they called excessive.

“This morning I was happy to see that they stayed and insisted on continuing the protest,” said Cindy Sun, a 30-year-old bank worker who joined protesters in the Admiralty district during her lunch hour.

“What they were doing was not appropriate, especially the tear gas,” she said. “The students were completely peaceful.”

Chloe Wong, 46, a mother of two, said she was inspired to join the protesters in Admiralty by the scenes of tear gas being fired the day before. She said she could find time to participate for only an hour but wanted to show her support.

“The protesters, they are so young,” she said. “They are fighting for our future, for my children’s future.”

Hong Kong Residents Defy Officials’ Call to End Protests - NYTimes.com (via jenn2d2)

PLEASE HELP US: SPREAD THIS SHIT LIKE WILDFIRE

tartarsaucegaryen:

Starting on Monday, thousands of university students in Hong Kong have been gathering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Tamar Park (outside the government offices) to protest the National People Congress (NPC) of China’s decision to restrict the right to vote for Chief Executive, the city’s highest political leader in 2017.

image

Article 45 of the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s own mini-constitution implemented after the handover from Britain to China in 1997) states that the Chief Executive should be chosen by universal suffrage as an eventual goal. Time and time again the Communist Party of China have dodged/shut down any democratic progress. Last month the NPC announced that they would continue using the 1200-member committee, consisting of members loyal to the Communist Party, to vote for our CE. THIS IS ILLEGAL. THIS IS SHAM DEMOCRACY AND SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED.

The sit-in of university students belongs to a movement called ‘Occupy Central with Love and Peace’ and is led by The Hong Kong Federation of Students (schedule and declaration of the strike included). This act of civil disobedience consists of absolute non-violence. It consists of free public lectures offered by university professors and writers on topics like Orwell’s ‘1984’, history of Hong Kong’s struggle for democracy, Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s fight to end injustice etc etc. I was one of the students sitting in Tamar Park on Tuesday and Thursday and it was one of the most rewarding, educational and, I must emphasise, peaceful political activities I have ever witnessed.

image

image

On Friday, high school students led by the student group Scholarism joined in the protest. They marched to Civic Square, pleading for our current CE to come out of his offices and listen to their requests, just like he promised during his ‘campaign’ in 2012. More and more citizens joined in the protest after work.

image

image

image

The police started cutting off access to Civic Square, which is a publicly owned area. They used shields to form a blockade against the protestors and started pushing them back. When people resisted with umbrellas, they started using clubs and pepper spray on the protestors, who started putting both of their hands up to show they are unarmed. Many students who managed to rush in Civic Square are arrested, including the leading of Scholarism. Many of them have visible injuries caused by police brutality and some of them still haven’t been released from police custody.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

THE FIGHT IS STIL GOING ON. PEOPLE ARE STILL CROWDING OUTSIDE CIVIC SQUARE AND TAMAR. Resources are running thin and the police are still threatening violence. Some of my friends are at the protest and they are continuing the struggle despite the risks. It is predicted that the police will escalate their brutality with tear gas, more pepper spray and water cannons against innocent, peaceful protestors, many of them teenagers.

image

You can watch Occupy Central live here: x (Apple Daily livestream)

I know tumblr is a US-centric place but PLEASE PLEASE SPARE A SECOND TO REBLOG THIS POST. Hong Kong is a tiny city. We are anything but a formidable force in international politics. The only thing we can do is raise awareness among the world and force our corrupt government to answer to our protests. 

PLEASE HELP US. 

Articles on Occupy Central (English): x (The Economist), x (BBC News), x (Mail Online), x (Newsweek), x (CNN), x (Right Now I/O), x (NY Times)

Updates (Chinese): x (Campus TV, HKU), x (Apple Daily), x (Amnesty International Hong Kong), x (InMedia HK), x (926政總現場消息發佈)

catmartini:

 

Scientists liken Chinese smog to ‘nuclear winter’

Feb. 27 2014

Air pollution in parts of China is now so extreme it could lead to conditions similar to a “nuclear winter,” scientists say. The smog that covers the country has become so thick it is impeding photosynthesis, potentially disrupting China’s food supply.

China’s pollution problem is reaching crisis point, with acrid smog covering six southern provinces for the past week. Over the last few days a total of 19 cities have recorded levels of pollution drastically exceeding the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safety levels.

Beijing’s concentration of micro-particles small enough to enter into people’s lungs and trigger serious health issues reached 505 micrograms per cubic meter Tuesday. The WHO’s safe level is 25 micrograms per meter.

The toxic smog is having severe consequences, with aircraft being grounded across the country because of poor visibility, roads closing and a significant reduction in tourist numbers. An associate professor at China Agricultural University, He Dongxian, told the South China Morning Post that if these conditions continued, China will experience something akin to a “nuclear winter.”

Furthermore, she said an experiment in Beijing in recent months had shown a significant slowdown in photosynthesis (the process by which plants turn light into chemical energy). According to He Dongxian’s tests, chili and tomato seeds that usually take 20 days to sprout could take over two months to grow into seedlings.

"They will be lucky to live at all. Now almost every farm is caught in a smog panic," He Dongxian said, adding that the poor seedling quality would have a severe effect on agricultural output this year.

Beijing authorities have come under fire from environmental organizations this week for failing to activate a red alert – which requires schools to close to minimize the impact of the smog on the public.

"The officials are not proactive enough. They should listen to public opinion when setting the conditions [for the alerts],” said Greenpeace campaigner Huang Wei, adding that the authorities had not met the public’s expectations.

China’s smog problem has begun to affect its neighbors overseas. On Wednesday officials in Kumamoto prefecture in southwestern Japan issued a health warning to residents after a dramatic rise in air pollution levels. Authorities advised people to stay indoors and not to exercise outside.

Ministers from China, Japan and South Korea are set to meet in May to discuss ways to mitigate the rising levels of pollution in the region. China has been criticized by its neighbors for its excessive use of coal-burning power stations.

http://rt.com/news/chinese-smog-nuclear-winter-008/

We Won’t Beat Climate Change Until We’ve Beaten Coal


Of course, there’s a reason why coal is so popular in China and in much of the rest of the world: it’s very, very cheap. And that’s why, despite the danger coal poses to health and the environment, neither China nor many other rapidly growing developing nations are likely to turn away from it. (If you really want to get scared, see this report from the International Energy Agency — hat tip to Ed Crooks of the Financial Times — which notes that by 2017, India could be burning more importing as much coal as China.) That’s likely to remain the case in poor nations until clean energy can compete with coal on price — and that day hasn’t come yet.


Read more: http://science.time.com/2013/01/29/the-scariest-environmental-fact-in-the-world/#ixzz2Kc6mxHAJ

China paper says leaders must listen after riots

sinidentidades:

BEIJING — China’s most influential newspaper on Monday urged authorities to listen to people’s worries about pollution, after fears over a new waste water pipeline sparked weekend riots.

“The public’s awareness of environmental issues and their rights is increasing at a rapid pace,” said an editorial in the People’s Daily — the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist party.

China should strive to “establish an open and transparent decision-making mechanism, and build a tolerant environment for public opinion”, it said.

Authorities in the eastern Chinese city of Qidong agreed Saturday to cancel plans to build a new water pipeline after thousands of local people took to the streets, overturning cars and ransacking government offices.

They were concerned that the pipeline, from a Japanese-owned paper factory, would pollute a nearby fishing port.

China’s dependence on manufacturing for economic growth has left the country struggling with a legacy of industrial pollution, and the riots were only the latest in a series of environmental protests.

Last year, a large-scale demonstration in the coastal city of Dalian forced the local government to relocate a chemical factory.

thepeoplesrecord:

Protest stops China sewage project

July 28, 2012

Bowing to intense pressure from local residents, authorities in an eastern Chinese city abandoned plans to build a controversial sewage pipeline for a paper mill, the local government announced Saturday.

After days of fuming at potential water pollution caused by the project and defying official orders, thousands of residents in Qidong city north of Shanghai gathered in a downtown square early Saturday morning to voice their opposition to the project, a witness told CNN.

Blocked by hundreds of awaiting police, the protesters marched to the city government building, said the witness, who asked to be identified only by his surname Wan for fear of official reprisal.

“Most people stayed calm,” Wan said. “Only a few clashed with police, but there were no serious injuries.”

The protest in Qidong is the latest example of China’s increasingly Internet-savvy urban residents — long considered the main beneficiaries of the government’s economic reforms — banding together for a common cause, especially environmental issues.

Chinese officials in southwestern Sichuan province scrapped plans early this month to build a $1.6 billion heavy metals plant following violent protests by local residents worried about the project’s environmental impact.

Last August, a large protest prompted authorities in the northeastern port city of Dalian to shut down a controversial chemical plant that produced paraxylene (PX), an allegedly carcinogenic compound used in the production of polyester films and fabrics.

In 2008, residents in Shanghai worried about radiation risks took to the streets to protest the construction of a high-speed rail line using the magnetic levitation technology, forcing the government to suspend the project indefinitely. And in 2007, residents in the southeastern city of Xiamen marched against a local PX plant, which eventually moved out of town.

Source

To Tumblr, Love Pixel Union