Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have vowed to make good on their threat of widespread civil disobedience after Beijing crushed hopes of an open election for the territory's chief executive in 2017. China's legislature ruled that candidates must be backed by a nominating committee, a move that means voters are likely to have just two or three candidates to choose from—all of them nominated by a pro-Beijing committee. At a protest last night, one of the pro-democracy movement's leaders called it the "darkest day in the history of Hong Kong's democratic development" and warned that the former British colony's people "are no longer willing to be docile subjects," reports Reuters. Activists in the "Occupy Central" movement plan to paralyze Hong Kong's central business district to protest Beijing's decision.
Analysts say Beijing feared that granting Hong Kong's demand for greater democracy would have led to similar demands on the mainland. "In the territory controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, only Hong Kong has some space for free speech, some judicial independence, so it is a mirror for people on the mainland," a dissident in Beijing who was placed under house arrest ahead of the government announcement tells the New York Times. "The outcome of this battle for democracy will also determine future battles for democracy for all of China." In nearby Macau, meanwhile, chief executive Fernando Chui was "re-elected" to another five-year term yesterday by a 400-strong pro-Beijing committee that didn't have any other candidates to choose from, the South China Morning Post reports. Five people were arrested last week over an informal poll on more democracy in the former Portuguese colony.