Friday, July 1, 2011
HK REVOLT - Marchers vent anger on Hong Kong prices, policies
HONG KONG - Tens of thousands of people vented anger over Hong Kong's skyrocketing property prices and government policies Friday at an annual march marking the former British colony's return to Chinese rule.
People blew whistles, beat drums and banged metal cups to express their unhappiness. Many waved flags caling for universal suffrage while others chanted "Down down with property tycoons" and called for Chief Executive Donald Tsang to step down.
Since the territory was handed back to China on July 1, 1997, Hong Kong has largely retained its Western-style civil liberties, including press freedom and the right to hold public protests. But its people still cannot directly elect the city's chief executive or all legislative members.
One of the big themes of the march marking the 14th anniversary is the growing rich-poor divide in Hong Kong, where skyrocketing property prices have left many residences unaffordable and forced out small shopkeepers. March organizers say they want to protest the "hegemony" of Hong Kong's big property developers over the market.
Some protesters carried large signs depicting Tsang and billionaire Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong's richest man whose business empire includes a major property developer, with devil horns and vampire fangs. They chanted slogans accusing the government and developers of colluding to establish a monopoly.
Prices for apartments in Hong Kong have been driven up by ultra-low interest rates and excess liquidity, and the government has twice introduced measures since November to cool the market.
"But also on social issues, there is a lot of unhappiness. That's why the people are coming."
As many as 100,000 people were expected to take to the streets, according to an estimate by the nonpartisan Hong Kong Transition Project reported by the South China Morning Post newspaper. Hong Kong police said they would not have a crowd estimate until the rally ends.
Continue reading - Tens of thousands vent anger at Hong Kong rally over wealth gap, gov't policies
Thousands march on Hong Kong handover anniversary