Hong Kong: World's Most Polite Protesters?

Sources say authorities have decided to wait protests out
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2014 4:39 AM CDT
Updated Oct 1, 2014 7:42 AM CDT
Hong Kong: World's Most Polite Protesters?
Student protesters chant anti-government slogans outside of China's National Day flag-raising ceremony in Hong Kong today.   (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

After a feared crackdown never materialized, thousands of pro-democracy protesters remained on the streets of Hong Kong for another day today as China marked the National Day holiday. Even as the numbers of protesters blocking key parts of the city swelled, one of the things that most surprised the world's media was just how polite and orderly things remained:

  • The BBC lists a few things that could "only happen during a Hong Kong protest," including student protesters doing homework during a sit-in; signs apologizing for the inconvenience attached to makeshift barricades; crowds being offered not only free water and snacks, but free shirt-fresheners; protesters cleaning up—and recycling—every scrap of litter; and protesters filling the streets surrounding a war memorial, but obeying the sign asking them to keep off the grass.

  • Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's government has decided—with Beijing's blessing—that the best response to the massive protests is to do nothing, insiders say. Negotiating with the protesters has been ruled out, and authorities have decided to wait for the public to lose patience with the disruption. "The government can tolerate the blockade of three or four or five areas and see how the demonstrations go, so the only way the demonstrators can go is to escalate it—spread it to more places, and then they cannot sustain it—or they will become violent," a government source tells the New York Times, adding that if the protesters become violent, "they know better than we do that they will lose support overnight."
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu is among those who have offered support to the protesters, saying, "Their struggle is one that all who believe in the principles of democracy and justice should support," reports the South China Morning Post.
  • In mainland China, meanwhile, National Day celebrations went ahead normally, although the 10,000 pigeons released in Beijing's Tiananmen Square were tightly scrutinized, with their feathers and anuses checked for dangerous materials, reports the AP. Some critics compared the pigeons' plight to that of the Chinese public. "The liberty and dignity of citizens are increasingly vulnerable, and can be expropriated at any time, like with the pigeons," wrote columnist Zhang Ping. "They have to go through the pains and insults of the rude anal check and yet they must appear peaceful and happy on the screen of the state broadcaster."
(Read more Hong Kong stories.)

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