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Hong Kong crowds swell for pro-democracy protests

03 October 2014

by a staff reporter


Challenging: student protesters chant anti-government slogans outside China's National Day flag-raising ceremony in Hong Kong on Wednesday

Challenging: student protesters chant anti-government slogans outside China's National Day flag-raising ceremony in Hong Kong on Wednesday

THOUSANDS of people remained on the streets of Hong Kong in pro-democracy protests on Wednesday, a public holiday marking the anniversary of the founding of Communist China.

Demonstrations began last weekend in protest at the announcement by the Beijing government that it would vet candidates standing for Hong Kong's next leader in 2017. Police initially responded to protesters with tear gas and pepper spray, but later withdrew, and the demonstration has remained calm.

The protest was begun by university students, but thousands of others, including many Christians, have joined the cause. Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun SDB - a former RC Bishop of Hong Kong - spoke to crowds at the weekend, urging them to ignore the Communist government.

"In a place where education is not sufficient, people will get cheated easily. There will be danger of manipulation. However, the basic conditions in Hong Kong are ready. People are mature enough," he said. "Beijing does not allow civil nomination because . . . they do not trust in us, thinking that we will intentionally choose a leader who will confront them."

When asked how or if a Christian should be involved in politics, Cardinal Zen answered: "For the Catholic Church, everyone has the right and duty to get involved, though it may be in different degrees of participation."


The Anglican Church has so far been silent on the protests, though earlier this month it warned students at its schools that their marks would be penalised if they missed school to demonstrate.

In contrast, the RC diocese told its schools not to penalise students for missing classes and joining the demonstrations.

The Archbishop of Hong Kong, the Most Revd Paul Kwong, is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. In July, he urged pro-democracy protesters to remain silent, "as Jesus remained silent" as he was tried and condemned.

Some churches are being opened to offer support to protesters.

The Senior Pastor at The Vine Church, the Revd Andrew Gardener, wrote on the church's website this week: "The last 24 hours in Hong Kong has seen some scenes that we thought we would never see in our city. . . It is times like these when we believe the church has an essential role to play in society." He announced that the church would remain open as a "refuge" for all protesters.

A MAN has walked 5000 miles from Hong Kong to London - albeit taking at times a circuitous route - and is expected to arrive in front of Buckingham Palace today to thank the UK for saving his family.

The man, Hong Tsz Ling, aged 26, started his journey on foot on 5 October last year. He has been forced to take a less-than-straightforward route because of visa problems, and has relied on the generosity of strangers for his food and board. He has stayed in many churches on his route, and this week called in at the Holy Trinity church café in Dartford.

Mr Hong is raising money on his walk for the UN Refugee Agency. His father was a refugee from China in the 1970s. He told the Dartford Messenger: "My father and his family were very rich, but at that time if you were rich, it was a very dangerous place to be.

"They escaped and made the trip to Hong Kong with nothing, but the British government helped them with money, food, and a job. Without them, they wouldn't be here and I wouldn't be here. I wanted to say thank you for saving my family.

"I have to find somewhere to stay every night, and since I started I have not had to sleep outside. I've never been hungry."

Mr Hong, an author and journalist in Hong Kong, is writing a book about his walk.


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