Islamic State beheads seven men, three women in Syria in “campaign to frighten”

October 1, 2014

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BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State beheaded seven men and three women in a northern Kurdish area of Syria, a human rights monitoring group said on Wednesday, part of what it described as a campaign to frighten residents resisting the militant group’s advance.

The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,  Rami Abdulrahman, said five anti-Islamic State Kurdish fighters, including three women, and four Syrian Arab rebels were detained and beheaded on Tuesday 14 km (8 miles) west of Kobani, a Kurdish town besieged by Islamic State near the Turkish border.

He said a Kurdish male civilian was also beheaded.

“I don’t know why they were arrested or beheaded. Only the Islamic State knows why. They want to scare people,” he said.

Reuters could not independently verify the information.

Islamic State fighters have carried out several beheadings of enemy fighters and civilians in Syria and Iraq.

The beheadings are often carried out in public and with a message that any violent or non-violent dissent with not be tolerated.

When fighting Sunni Mulsim tribes in eastern Syria, Islamic State have used beheadings to scare local leaders to withdraw from the battlefield. Islamic State has also beheaded foreign journalists and an aid worker.

(Reporting by Oliver Holmes, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

 

Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, October 2, 2014: “And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”

October 1, 2014

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Its Guardian Angel Day!

Memorial of the Guardian Angels
Lectionary: 458/650

Reading 1 jb 19:21-27

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Job said:Pity me, pity me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has struck me!
Why do you hound me as though you were divine,
and insatiably prey upon me?Oh, would that my words were written down!
Would that they were inscribed in a record:
That with an iron chisel and with lead
they were cut in the rock forever!
But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives,
and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust;
Whom I myself shall see:
my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold him,
And from my flesh I shall see God;
my inmost being is consumed with longing.
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Responsorial Psalm ps 27:7-8a, 8b-9abc, 13-14

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R. (13) I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
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Gospel mt 18:1-5, 10

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The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”
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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection• Today’s Gospel presents a text taken from the Discourse of the Community (Mt 18,1-35), in which Matthew gathers together some phrases of Jesus to help the communities of the first century to overcome the two problems which they had to face at that moment: the leaving or going away of the little ones because of the scandal caused by some (Mt 18, 1-14) and the need of dialogue to overcome the internal conflicts (Mt 18, 15-35)..

The discourse of the Community treats of several themes: the exercise of power in the community (Mt 18, 1-4), the scandal that excludes the little ones (Mt 18, 5-11), the obligation to struggle to bring back the little ones, for their return (Mt 18, 12-14), fraternal correction (Mt 18, 15-18), prayer (Mt 18, 19-20) and pardon (Mt 18, 21-35). The accent is placed on acceptance and on reconciliation, because the basis of fraternity is the gratuitous love of God which accepts us and forgives us. It is only in this way that the community will be a sign of the Kingdom.

• In today’s Gospel we meditate on the part that speaks about the acceptance of the little ones. The expression, the little ones, or the least does not only refer to children, but rather to persons who are not important in society, including children. Jesus asks that the little ones be at the centre of the concern of the community, because “The Father does not want any of these little ones to be lost” (Mt 18, 14).

• Matthew 18, 1: The question of the disciples which results in the teaching of Jesus. The discip0les want to know who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. The simple fact of asking this question indicates that they have not understood well the message of Jesus. The response of Jesus, that is, the whole discourse of the Community, serves to make us understand that among the followers of Jesus the spirit of service, of dedication of pardon, of reconciliation and of gratuitous love, without seeking one’s own interest, have to be a priority.

• Matthew 18, 2-5: the fundamental criterion; the one who makes himself as little as this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. “Then Jesus called to himself a child and placed him in the middle”; the disciples want a criterion so as to be able to measure the importance of persons in the community. Jesus responds that the criterion is the little ones! Children are not important in society; they do not belong to the world of the great.

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The disciples, instead of growing towards the heights and toward the centre, should grow down and toward the periphery! In this way they will be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven! And the reason for this is the following: “anyone who welcomes one little child like this, in my name, welcomes me!” The love of Jesus for the little ones cannot be explained. The children have no merit; they are loved by their parents and by all because they are children. This is a pure gratuitous love of God which is manifested here and which can be imitated in the community of those who believe in Jesus.

• Matthew 18, 6-9: Do not scandalize the little ones. The Gospel today omits verses 6 to 9 and continues in verse 10. We give a brief key for the reading of these verses, from 6 to 9. To scandalize the little ones means: to be for them a reason for the loss of faith in God and of the abandonment from the community. The excessive insistence on the norms and on the observance, as some Pharisees did, caused the little ones to go away, because they no longer found the liberty that Jesus had brought. Before this, Matthew keeps very strong phrases of Jesus, such as the one of the mill stone put around the neck, and the other one, “Alas for those who cause scandal!”

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This is a sign that at that time the little ones no longer identified themselves with the community and looked for another refuge. And today? In Brazil alone, every year, approximately one million persons abandon the historical churches and go to the Pentecostal ones. And these are the poor who do this. They leave because the poor and the little ones do not feel at home in their house! Which is the reason? To avoid this scandal, Jesus orders to cut the foot or the hand and take out the eye. These affirmations of Jesus cannot be taken literally. They mean that it is necessary to be very demanding in the struggle against scandal which drives away the little ones. We cannot, in any way, allow that the little ones feel marginalized in our community; because in this case, the community would not be a sign of the Kingdom of God. It would not belong to Jesus Christ. It would not be Christian.

• Matthew 18, 10: The angels of the little ones are always in the presence of the Father. “See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in Heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in Heaven”. Today, sometimes we hear the question, “But, do the angels exist or not? Perhaps they are an element of the Persian culture, where the Jews lived for long centuries during the exile of Babylonia? It is possible. But this is not the important thing, this is not the principal aspect.

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In the Bible the angel has a different significance. There are texts which speak about the Angel of Yahweh or of the Angel of God and then suddenly they speak of God. They exchange one for the other (Gen 18, 1-2. 9.10.13.16: cf. Gen 13, 3.18). In the Bible the Angel is the face of Yahweh turned toward us. The face of God turned toward me, toward you! It is the expression of the most profound conviction of our faith, that is, that God is with us, with me, always! It is a way of making God’s love concrete in our life, even up to the smallest detail.

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Personal questions

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• Are the little ones accepted in our community? Do the poorest people participate in our community?

• The angels of God, the Guardian Angel, many times the Angel of God is the person who helps another person. Are there many angels in your life?

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Concluding prayer

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Lord, you created my inmost self,
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
For so many marvels I thank you;
a wonder am I,
and all your works are wonders. (Ps 139,13-14)

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http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-guardian-angels-matthew-181-510

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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Hong Kong protests could last weeks CY Leung, Chief Executve says

October 1, 2014

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

By Donny Kwok and James Pomfret

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong authorities will not immediately move to clear tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters occupying large areas of the city, and will let them stay for weeks if need be, a source with ties to leader Leung Chun-ying said on Wednesday.

In contrast, students spearheading the protest movement ratcheted up pressure on Leung, saying they would occupy more government buildings unless the Beijing-backed chief executive stepped down by Thursday night.

Hong Kong protesters are angry about China’s decision to limit voters’ choices in a 2017 leadership election, and, in a major challenge to Beijing’s authority in Hong Kong and beyond, have brought much of the financial hub to a standstill.

As the mass action approached its sixth day on Wednesday evening, the number of people on the streets remained high.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents, holding their mobile phones and angry at police tactics, joined student demonstrators in the city's financial district on Monday and Tuesday in the one of the biggest political challenges for China since the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents, holding their mobile phones and angry at police tactics, joined student demonstrators in the city’s financial district on Monday and Tuesday in the one of the biggest political challenges for China since the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago. (Carlos Barria / Reuters)

Fears among demonstrators that police might try to remove them forcibly ahead of the National Day holiday marking the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 proved unfounded, and the atmosphere was calm but defiant.

Hong Kong student leader Lester Shum issued an ultimatum to Leung: step down or else face wider protests.

“We will escalate the action if CY Leung doesn’t resign by tonight or tomorrow night. We will occupy more government facilities and offices,” he told protesters.

“I believe the government is trying to buy more time. They want to use tactics such as sending some people to create chaos so that they would have a good reason to disperse the crowd.”

Riot police had used tear gas, pepper spray and baton charges at the weekend to try to quell the unrest, but tensions have eased since then as both sides appeared ready to wait it out, at least for now.

Protesters have dug in, setting up supply stations with water bottles, fruit, disposable raincoats, towels, goggles, face masks and tents.

Leung has said Beijing would not back down and that Hong Kong police would be able to maintain security without help from People’s Liberation Army troops from the mainland.

According to a government source with ties to Leung, the chief executive appeared ready to allow the anger to subside, and would only intervene if there was looting or violence.

“Unless there’s some chaotic situation, we won’t send in riot police … We hope this doesn’t happen,” the source said. “We have to deal with it peacefully, even if it lasts weeks or months.”

Leung could not be immediately reached for comment.

BEIJING’S BALANCING ACT

The protests are the worst in Hong Kong since China resumed its rule of the former British colony in 1997.

They also pose one of the biggest political challenges for Beijing since it violently crushed pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

China has dismissed the protests as illegal, but in a worrying sign for the Communist Party leadership in Beijing, the demonstrations have spread to neighbouring Macau and Taiwan.

On Wednesday, hundreds of people moved into Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui, a shopping area popular with mainland Chinese visitors. It would normally be doing roaring trade during the annual National Day holiday.

The celebrations went ahead peacefully, although scores of students near the ceremony at Bauhinia Square booed as the national anthem was played.

A beaming Leung shook hands with supporters waving the Chinese flag, even as protesters who want him to stand down chanted: “We want real democracy.”

“We hope that all sectors of the community will work with the government in a peaceful, lawful, rational and pragmatic manner … and make a big step forward in our constitutional development,” Leung said in a speech.

The Hong Kong and Chinese flags billowed in the wind at the completion of the ceremony, but one of the main protest groups said they marked the occasion “with a heavy heart”.

Cracking down too hard on the movement could shake confidence in market-driven Hong Kong, which has a separate legal system from the rest of China. Not reacting firmly enough, however, could embolden dissidents on the mainland.

China rules Hong Kong under a “one country, two systems” formula that accords it some autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, with universal suffrage an eventual goal.

However, protesters reacted angrily when Beijing decreed on Aug. 31 that it would vet candidates wishing to run for Hong Kong’s leadership.

In contrast to National Day celebrations in Hong Kong, hundreds of people attended a tightly choreographed flag-raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The daily event was typically austere, with goose stepping troops and a brass band.

Communist Party leaders in Beijing worry that calls for democracy could spread to the mainland, and have been aggressively censoring news and social media comments about the Hong Kong demonstrations.

A strongly worded editorial in the People’s Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, attacked the “Occupy Central” protests as being confrontational.

“And now, a handful of people are bent on confronting the law and stirring up trouble. (They) will eventually suffer the consequences of their actions,” it said on Wednesday.

Rights groups said that a number of mainland activists supporting the Hong Kong protests had been detained or intimidated by police on the mainland.

The turmoil has hit the share market, with the city’s benchmark index <.HSI> falling 7.3 percent over the past month. Markets are closed on Wednesday and Thursday for the holiday.

Some banks and other financial firms have begun moving staff to back-up premises on the outskirts of the city to prevent growing unrest from disrupting trading and other critical functions, two business services firms said.

Mainland Chinese visiting Hong Kong had differing views on the demonstrations.

“For the first time in my life, I feel close to politics,” said a 29-year-old tourist from Beijing surnamed Yu. “I believe something like this will happen in China one day.”

But a woman surnamed Lin, from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, said the protesters’ demands for a democratic election were “disrespectful to the mainland”.

In Taipei’s Liberty Square, some 5,000 mostly young protesters, many wearing symbolic yellow ribbons in a show of solidarity, encouraged Hong Kong people to fight for democracy.

The Hong Kong protests have been watched closely in Taiwan, which has full democracy but is considered by Beijing as a renegade province that must one day be reunited with the mainland.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has said Beijing needed “to listen carefully to the demands of the Hong Kong people”.

In the former Portuguese colony of Macau, which like Hong Kong is now a Chinese “special administrative region”, organisers said around 1,200 people gathered in a show of solidarity at Friendship Square.

Former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten called for genuine consultation over demands for greater democracy.

“I think we’ve got to see dialogue replacing tear gas and pepper sprays,” Patten, the last British governor before the 1997 handover of the territory to China, told BBC radio.

(Additional reporting by Irene Jay Liu, Farah Master, Diana Chan, Twinnie Siu, Yimou Lee, Kinling Lo, Charlie Zhu, John Ruwitch, Clare Baldwin, Diana Chan and Anne Marie Roantree in HONG KONG,Sui-Lee Wee in BEIJING, Michael Gold and J.R. Wu in TAIPEI and Stephen Addison in LONDON; Writing by Paul Tait, Jeremy Laurence and Mike Collett-White; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

Related Stories

  1. Hong Kong protests approach potential National Day flashpoint Reuters
  2. Protesters stay out on Hong Kong streets, defying Beijing Reuters
  3. Hong Kong protesters renew fight on China’s National Day AFP
  4. Hong Kong protests hit China’s National Day: Live Report AFP
  5. Hong Kong protesters threaten to occupy buildings Associated Press

Related here on Peace and Freedom from around the world:

Hong Kong protests: Echoes of Tiananmen in today’s demonstrations

October 1, 2014

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It is not just democracy that is at stake in Hong Kong

By Patrick Brown, CBC News Posted: Oct 01, 2014

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents, holding their mobile phones and angry at police tactics, joined student demonstrators in the city's financial district on Monday and Tuesday in the one of the biggest political challenges for China since the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents, holding their mobile phones and angry at police tactics, joined student demonstrators in the city’s financial district on Monday and Tuesday in the one of the biggest political challenges for China since the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago. (Carlos Barria / Reuters)

Proclaiming the foundation of the Peoples’ Republic of China from Beijing’s Tiananmen Gate in 1949, Mao Zedong said “The Chinese people have stood up.”

Today in Hong Kong, 65 years later, people in their tens of thousands have stood up, too, ignoring Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s order to “Stop this protest immediately.”

These Chinese people are hoping that, this time, power will grow not from the barrel of a gun, as Mao also famously said, but from the umbrellas they carry to protect themselves from the seasonal downpours and the pepper spray and tear gas rained on them by armed police.

The initial deployment of armed riot squads in combat fatigues, helmets and gas masks on Sunday ended up bringing out enormous crowds sympathetic to the students who have been at the forefront of a campaign of civil disobedience at its most civil.

Lining up quietly to take the subway to the demonstrations, separating their garbage for recycling and apologizing for the inconvenience they are causing, students have been protesting against the central government’s decision to rig the election of a new chief executive in 2017.

Only candidates approved by Beijing will be allowed to run for the top job.

HONGKONG-CHINA/

A protester raises his umbrellas in front of tear gas fired by riot police to disperse protesters blocking the main street Hong Kong’s central financial district on Sunday. Police have since stopped their more aggressive tactics. (Tyrone Siu / Reuters)

Many in Hong Kong feel this decision reneges on the promise China made when it took over Hong Kong from Britain in 1997, a promise of “one country two systems” with “a high degree of autonomy” and “Hong Kong people running Hong Kong.”

But this confrontation is about more than who will take over as Hong Kong’s top elected official in three years’ time.

At its heart, it is about whether China’s leaders will allow Hong Kong to strengthen its institutions of democracy and its rule of law, which it needs if it is to continue as a financial powerhouse and one of the greatest cities in the world.

Joshua Wong: The 17 Year Old from Hong Kong who has Beijing worried

Two courts, two systems

The alternative, driven by the fear in Beijing that more democracy in Hong Kong would lead to a contagious demand for the same in the rest of the country, is to gradually transform the territory into just another city in southern China.

Two court decisions illustrate the difference.

As the police in Hong Kong began their ill-judged, heavy-handed and, as it turned out, counterproductive confrontation with protesters on Friday, they grabbed up a prominent student leader, Joshua Wong, and held him for 40 hours.

On Sunday, a High Court judge ordered Wong released unconditionally, granting a writ of habeas corpus, the ancient provision in British common law against unlawful detention. He also scolded the police for having held Wong for so long.

Meanwhile, five days earlier, in the province of Xinjiang in Western China, the Intermediate People’s Court in Urumqi sentenced Ilham Tohti, a professor of economics, to life in prison.

It also confiscated all his assets, so as to leave his wife and young children destitute.

Tohti, who taught at Minzu University in Beijing, had been a prominent spokesman for the rights of Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group in Xinjiang who speak a language related to Turkish.

Some of the more militant Uighurs, who have been opposed to Chinese rule in Xinjiang, have increasingly been resorting to violence for their cause, including the gruesome murders of railway passengers in the southwestern city of Kunming in March.

China Minority Scholar

In this 2013 photo, Ilham Tohti, an outspoken scholar of China’s Turkic Uighur ethnic minority, is interviewed at his home in Beijing. Tohti was sentenced to life in prison in September 2014, a decision that drew international condemnation. (The Associated Press)

Last week alone 50 people died violent deaths in Xinjiang itself.

For his part, Tohti has an international reputation as a constructive advocate of more autonomy and respect for human rights in Xinjiang as possible solutions to the deteriorating situation there.

In his writing, and in many interviews with foreign journalists, he has always rejected violence, and has never advocated independence for the region.

The lesson here is that, in China a moderate academic can be sentenced to life imprisonment, with his family impoverished, for the crime of speaking and writing about human rights.

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, a young man who has gone one step further, by organizing (so far peaceful) anti-government demonstrations, is free to continue doing so because the rule of law is still respected.

Echoes of Tiananmen

Joshua Wong, who turns eighteen in two weeks, was born a few months after the historic handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997.

His confidence and optimism that protest can make a difference are typical of demonstrators in their teens and twenties who have grown up in a place where the law means something.

They see something of a victory in the government’s decision to withdraw the riot police after their presence turned student demonstrations into a mass uprising.

Hong Kong people of all ages have now joined the protests, but those who remember taking to the streets in 1989 to voice their support for students in Tiananmen Square, also remember that there were times when those students, too, seemed to be winning and the authorities retreating.

And they remember the disastrous final outcome.

In Chinese Communist Party’s decision-making one consideration trumps all others. Whatever the party judges to be a threat to its grip on power will be crushed, no matter what the other consequences.

China’s censors and internet watchdogs have stepped up measures to prevent news of Hong Kong’s show of defiant people power reaching citizens on the mainland.

If the party comes to see this struggle over the future of Hong Kong as a struggle over the future of China itself, there are perilous times ahead.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/hong-kong-protests-echoes-of-tiananmen-in-today-s-demonstrations-1.2783174

Protesters gather around the Golden Bauhinia Square, Hong Kong on Wednesday. Pro-democracy protest leaders in Hong Kong warned that if the territory's leader doesn't resign by the end of Thursday they will step up their actions, including occupying important government buildings.

Protesters gather around the Golden Bauhinia Square, Hong Kong on Wednesday. Pro-democracy protest leaders in Hong Kong warned that if the territory’s leader doesn’t resign by the end of Thursday they will step up their actions, including occupying important government buildings. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

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From the New York Times

Hong Kong Government’s Strategy on Protesters: Wait Them Out

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/02/world/asia/hong-kong-protests.html?_r=0

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Detentions of Hong Kong Protest Sympathizers Reported in Mainland

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/02/world/asia/hong-kong-protest.html?rref=world/asia&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Asia 20Pacific&pgtype=article

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Mainlanders in Hong Kong See Standoff as Inconvenience and Inspiration

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/02/world/asia/for-mainland-tourists-in-hong-kong-standoff-is-both-inconvenience-and-inspiration.html?rref=world/asia&module=Ribbon&version=origin&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Asia%20Pacific&pgtype=article

Mainland Chinese tourists walked past a slogan reading ‘‘True Democracy for HK’’ outside a luxury shop in one of Hong Kong’s main retail districts on Wednesday, the first day of China’s weeklong National Day holiday. Credit Tyrone Siu/Reuters

 

Hong Kong protesters vow to occupy government buildings unless Beijing’s Chief Executive for the city resigns

October 1, 2014

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“I think we have destroyed the values of Hong Kong earlier this weekend by shooting tear gas at children.”

– Local councilor Paul Zimmerman

The Central Government Offices and the Legislative Council Complex at Tamar, Hong Kong

Hong Kong: Pro-democracy protesters issue threat unless Chief Executive steps down after heckling under-fire Hong Kong leader at Chinese National Day event

The Associated Press

Student leaders of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong say that if the territory’s leader doesn’t resign by Thursday they will step up their actions, including occupying several important government buildings.

Lester Shum said at a news conference on Wednesday that the student leaders would welcome an opportunity to speak with a Chinese central government official, but not Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, insisting he must step down.

Shum is the vice secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, which has played a key role in organising the street protests that started Friday.

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Joshua Wong, leader of the student pro-democracy group Scholarism, center, at a flag-raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong on Oct 1

Thousands of residents have occupied several key areas of Hong Kong to press for greater electoral reforms after Beijing decided in August to screen candidates for the territory’s first direct election scheduled for 2017.

Pro-democracy protesters heckled Hong Kong’s under-fire leader when he attended a flag-raising ceremony on China’s National Day on Wednesday, ahead of the largest protests seen yet this week.

The protesters, upset that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has refused to meet them, have threatened to expand their demonstrations unless he resigns and the Chinese leadership agrees to broader electoral reforms.

The ceremony was held to mark the anniversary of the founding of communist China in 1949, and after the hundreds of protesters, kept behind police barricades, yelled at Mr Leung to step down, they then fell silent and turned their backs when the ceremony began.

Helicopters flew past carrying the Hong Kong and Chinese flags, with the latter noticeably bigger.

In a speech, Leung made no direct mention of the protesters, who have blocked streets for days across the semiautonomous territory to press demands for genuine democratic reforms for Hong Kong’s first direct elections in 2017 to choose the city’s top leader.

The protests have posed the stiffest challenge to Beijing’s authority since China took control of the former British colony in 1997.

Beijing has restricted the voting reforms, requiring candidates to be screened by a committee of mostly pro-Beijing local elites similar to the one that hand-picked Leung for the job.

Leung told voters it is better to agree to Beijing’s plans for nominating candidates and to hold an election, than to stick with the current system of having an Election Commission choose the chief executive.

“It is definitely better to have universal suffrage than not,” Leung said. “It is definitely better to have the chief executive elected by 5 million eligible voters than by 1,200 people. And it is definitely better to cast your vote at the polling station than to stay home and watch on television the 1,200 members of the Election Committee cast their votes.”

As he spoke later to a group of dignitaries, pro-democracy lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung shouted for him to step down before he was bundled away by security. Local councilor Paul Zimmerman held up a yellow umbrella. The umbrella has become a symbol of the nonviolent civil disobedience movement because it has been used by protesters to deflect police pepper spray.

“I’m here today with the yellow umbrella because it stands against the shooting of tear gas at the children of Hong Kong. I think we have destroyed the values of Hong Kong earlier this weekend by shooting tear gas at children,” Zimmerman said.

Paul Zimmerman, a district councillor, raises a yellow umbrella as Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (5th R) addresses guests at a flag raising ceremony in Hong Kong on 1 October 2014
Hong Kong district councillor Paul Zimmerman raised a yellow umbrella – a symbol of the protests – at a reception following the flag-raising ceremony on National Day in Hong Kong

China took control of Hong Kong under an arrangement that guaranteed its 7 million people semi-autonomy, Western-style civil liberties and eventual democratic freedoms that are denied to Chinese living on the communist-ruled mainland.

The territory’s first direct elections are set for 2017, but the recent move by the Chinese government saying that a special committee will screen the candidates is seen as reneging on a promise that the chief executive will be chosen through “universal suffrage.”

Changing that is one of the major demands of the protesters.

The growing protests have attracted worldwide attention, with David Cameron saying he planned to summon the Chinese ambassador to discuss the dispute, saying it is essential that Hong Kong’s people have a genuine right to choose their top leader.

“It is not for us to involve ourselves in every dot and comma of what the Chinese set out,” Mr Cameron said. But he added: “I think it is a critical question. Real universal suffrage doesn’t just mean the act of voting; it means a proper choice.”

Mr Leung’s rejection of the student demands dashed hopes for a quick resolution of the standoff that has blocked city streets and forced some schools and offices to close.

Despite the hardening rhetoric from both sides, Tuesday night passed with a festive mood and few police were evident, but the crowds and road blockages are expected to grow sharply as Wednesday and Thursday are public holidays.

“Frankly, if I was a government official, I would not have a clue how to solve this,” said Chit Lau, a 35-year-old pilot, adding he thought the stalemate would continue until Mr Leung or some other top official resigned, or the army clashed with the people.

It was not clear what the demonstrators plan to do next. There were no immediate official statements from the protesters. University students are already boycotting classes, and other options include widening the protests, pushing for a labour strike and occupying a government building.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has taken a hard line against any perceived threat to the Communist Party’s hold on power, vowed in a National Day speech to “steadfastly safeguard” Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.

China’s government has condemned the student-led protests as illegal, though so far it has not overtly intervened, leaving Hong Kong authorities to handle the crisis. Over the weekend, police fired tear gas and pepper spray in an attempt to disperse the protesters, but the demonstrations only spread.

Related:

Philippines: China’s Ambassador Has No Kind Words For His Host Government on Chinese National Day

October 1, 2014
Posted at 10/01/2014 9:07 AM | Updated as of 10/01/2014 12:15 PM

MANILA – China’s top diplomat in the Philippines had no good wishes for President Aquino at the reception in celebration of the 65th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on Monday.

Breaking the traditional toast for stronger ties and good health of the highest leader of the host government, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua instead raised the disputes in the South China Sea during the affair held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City.

In his speech, Zhao said the sea disputes have adversely affected China’s bilateral relations with the Philippines as he called the handling of the tension by the Philippine government as “exaggerated” and “sensationalized.”

“To conclude, may I propose a toast to the prosperity and happiness of our peoples, to the friendship and cooperation between China and the Philippines, to the health of all the guests. Cheers!” Zhao said.

However, acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Laura del Rosario offered wishes of continuous health and prosperity for the Chinese people, Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping after her speech.

“I would like to end with a toast to your great people, the Chinese government, to your Premier Li Keqiang, and to your President Xi Jinping. We wish you continuous health and prosperity and may the Lord always bless you and everything you do. Mabuhay!” Del Rosario said.

The ambassador also downplayed threats posed by Chinese activities and reclamation projects in the disputed waters, saying “the overall situation in the South China Sea is stable and there is no problem with freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

“China does not approve of exaggerating and sensationalizing the so-called tension in the South China Sea,” Zhao said.

Zhao said the Philippines and China have made significant progress in efforts for common development, which has laid a good foundation for comprehensive partnership since the two countries established diplomatic relations 39 years ago.

“It is our common responsibility to handle the disputes in the South China Sea in a proper and peaceful manner so as to carry on and further promote bilateral friendship and cooperation inherited from our ancestors to the future generations,” he said.

Read more on The Philippine Star.

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Chinese coastguard ships in the South China Sea, the subject of maritime disputes between China and various Asean member states, the Philippines and Vietnam among them.

By |

MANILA, Philippines–China and the Philippines should work to improve their relations which had been adversely affected by their conflict in the South China Sea, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said Monday night.

“It should not go on like this,” Zhao said during a reception of the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China at Shangri-La hotel in Makati.

Zhao also insisted that the “overall situation in the South China Sea is stable and there is no problem with freedom of navigation” there.

“China does not approve of exaggerating and still less sensationalizing the so-called tension in the South Sea,” he said, adding that Beijing finds it best to resolved disputes through consultation and negotiations with the concerned countries.

As Zhao made this speech, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on the same day spoke before the United Nations General Assembly in New York, telling the world body of China’s continued expansion moves in the South China Sea and the Philippines’ intentions to keep the peace in the disputed area.

Del Rosario did not mention China directly in his speech, only referring it as a “State Party” whom the Philippine government had invited for a peaceful settlement of their maritime dispute through the UN arbitration tribunal.

The government had filed a case against China over its nine-dash line claim where Beijing is claiming almost the entire South China Sea, which included the Philippines’ exclusive economic zones. Early this year, it submitted a 4,000 page memorial to counter Beijing’s nine-dash line claim.

China has refused to participate in the proceedings but the UN tribunal has given it until December to submit its counter-memorial.

“Instead of peacefully resolving the maritime disputes within the framework of Unclos, said State embarked on a series of dangerous, reckless and forceful activities in an attempt to impose unilateral change in the maritime status quo of the South China Sea,” Del Rosario said, adding that these had escalated tensions and threatened peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/111880/we-cant-go-on-like-this-says-chinese-envoy-on-ph-ties#ixzz3EuE03DJX
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Chinese crews are doing a reclamation and construction project on Johnson South Reef in the South China sea. The land here is claimed by the Philippines. (Internet photo)

An example of what Vietnam calls  China’s “lawlessness” at sea: A Chinese ship rams and collides with a Vietnamese vessel in contested waters of the South China Sea. Photo: AFP photograb

Above: China says it has sovereignty over all inside the “Nine Dash Line” as seen here.

China claims ownership of about 90% of the South China Sea

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law. Experts say, this could be the geographic area that China could declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

HONG KONG LIVE as October 2 Begins: Hong Kong Democracy Groups Want To Occupy Buildings To Force Beijing’s Hand: Macau Activists Gather to Show Support

October 1, 2014

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Good evening and welcome to night four of our live Occupy Central coverage. Protests are expected to ramp up a gear tonight on the symbolic National Day holiday after student leaders set Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying a deadline of tomorrow to resign before they start occupying government buildings.

So far, Leung has refused to budge, raising a toast with mainland officials at the National Day flag-raising ceremony this morning against a backdrop of jeering protesters outside.

Stay tuned for all the latest breaking news throughout the night.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1606266/live-thousands-hit-streets-occupy-central-enters-fourth-night

9.40pm About 200 Hongkongers gathered in Queen’s Park in Brisbane, Australia on Wednesday in support of the “umbrella movement” in Hong Kong.

They distributed yellow ribbons and collected about 3,200 signatures from people from different suburbs in a petition addressed to Austrlian MPs.

They gathered in the park afterwards and sang songs from the Hong Kong protest. People took turns to speak of their thoughts which are with people in Hong Kong. They also observed a minute of silence to mourn for those who died in the Lamma ferry crash on this day two years ago.

Photo by Lo Wei.

9.30pm Update in Causeway Bay’s “watermelon from the sky” incident: a woman with a piece of black cloth covering her face was escorted by policemen out the back of a residential building into an ambulance. Police had spent more than an hour investigating an incident earlier this evening when a plastic bad filled with water and pieces of watermelon skin was thrown out of a window but missed protesters. 

9pm A white truck with brightly coloured lights is delivering water to protesters in Central for a second night.

The truck brings supplies from Wanchai and people can arrange to have deliveries made, said organiser Cheri Sung, a 21-year-old university student.

“I think they are starting to cause wastage because people are diminishing but citizens are still bringing it.”

The van left to huge cheers.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1606266/live-thousands-hit-streets-occupy-central-enters-fourth-night

Protesters enjoy a jazz band on National Day, October 1, 2014

8.50pm Resident woes: some Mongkok residents have complained about noise from protesters. One woman said she had not had a good night’s sleep for three nights. Protest marshals said they would wind down their large speakers.

Photo by Kathy Gao

8.45pm Ten year old volunteer Chan Pak Yan is handing out yellow ribbons to protesters on Canton Road.

“I come to support protesters, I agree with them that Hong Kong needs universal suffrage,” Chan said.

Chan told his mum that he wanted to come and they travelled from Tai Po to Tsim Sha Tsiu. “I want to come here to be some help and want Hong Kong to be a better place,” Chan said.

8.42pm One of Hong Kong’s most popular showbiz stars, Andy Lau Tak-wah, has urged the government not to use tear gas and violence against student protesters.

Dubbed as the city’s unofficial “community chief executive,” the award-winning actor wrote in his official website wishing peace for Hong Kong and reminding students and protesters to be safe and stay calm.

Lau wrote: “All Hongkongers love Hong Kong. We need to be considerate when we express our opinions. Don’t be provoked. No tear gas. No violence. No senseless arguments. Students and protesters, please be safe. Remember that your families are worried about your safety. Wish Hong Kong peace.”

Veteran actor Chow Yun-fat also spoke up. He told the media that the government made a serious mistake by using tear gas on students on day one. He criticised the government for being evasive when it should be facing the public.

“The students are very smart and rational. This is a peaceful protest. Why did [the government] have to resort to the violent tear gas?” Chow said.

“CY Leung cannot run away from this,” Chow said.

Hong Kong’s entertainment industry has been criticised for its lack of courage to talk about politics. After singers Anthony Wong Yiu-Ming and Denise Ho openly showed support to students by turning up at the protests, A-list Canto-pop stars Joey Yung Cho-yee and Kay Tse were also spotted turning up at protests to show support.

8.23pm Thousands of protesters observe a minute of silence at Occupy Mongkok in memory of those killed in the Lamma ferry disaster two years ago – the worst maritime disaster in the city’s recent history. The crash claimed the lives of 39 people.

Photo by Timmy Sung

8.15pm In Macau, organisers say about 500 activists are gathering at the Praca Da Amizade to show solidarity with Hong Kong protests. The gathering had been approved by the territory’s government. The meeting was first planned to take place in front of Macau’s Legislative Assembly, but later moved.

7.35pm A plastic bag filled with water and pieces of watermelon skin was thrown out of a window in a building on Yee Wo Street. No one was injured. Protesters reported the case to the police.

7

.30pm Three representatives from Scholarism arrived at Occupy Mongkok to thank protesters and show support. They reiterated that they were not there to steal the show but would be there to provide help and protect the participants.

“This is a city-wide movement which we brought up, but there are no leaders,” one spokesman said.

Some protesters were displeased that the students had taken up more than the allowed speaking time of two minutes on stage. Some others said they were concerned that the students might be trying to seize leadership of the Mongkok protests.

Another sea of lights in Tamar Park on Wednesday evening. Photo: Sam Tsang

7.30pm: Dr Fu King-wa, assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre and founder of the censorship-tracking website Weiboscope, said that the number of posts deleted from the popular microblogging site Weibo by mainland censors since Saturday has hit a record high.

Fu’s website – which tracks a daily sample of 50,000 to 60,000 postings from popular microbloggers – found that 98 posts per 10,000 were blocked on Saturday, 152 on Sunday at the height of the Hong Kong clashes, and 136 on Monday.

“This is the highest in 2014 – even higher than June 4 (the Tiananmen Square anniversary), even higher than some of the trials of the human rights lawyers, and also higher than some of the other social movements in China,” Fu said, referring to the past year’s civil society clampdown under President Xi Jinping.

Meanwhile, this photo just in from the protest site at Causeway Bay …

Pro-democracy messages in Causeway Bay on Wednesday evening. Photo: Raquel Carvalho

7.26pm: In a message posted on Facebook this afternoon, Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu, vice-chancellor of the Chinese University said he worried when he saw demonstrators, including some of his university’s students, dispersed by tear gas on Sunday evening.

“In the past few days, I spotted students slept on the streets, under sweltering heat, strong wind and heavy downpour. Yet they still insist on taking to the streets in orderly manner. They even take the initiative to clean up garbage in protest scenes. I can’t hold back my tears,” he wrote.

“I respect students’ expression of their views in a peaceful manner and touched by their readiness to make sacrifice. Although they may not be able to master the full picture, they just pursue their ideals with an innocent heart. We should offer our greatest tolerance and lenience for students,” Sung said. “I urge all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from using force. I hope the authorities to exercise discretion in handling prosecution against students. I also call on the government to engage in dialogue with students. Let’s break the stalemate through dialogue.”

7.25pm: Despite the turmoil and contrary to rumour, today’s National Day holiday race meeting went ahead as planned. But that was about all that was normal.

Late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping – the architect of the  “One Country, Two Systems’’ concept at the heart of the protests rocking our city – sought to assure the SAR that “horse racing and dancing would continue to be prominent fixtures in Hong Kong”.

The diminutive giant of Chinese political history clearly still has a point, but the momentous events going on around us are clearly having a deep-rooted effect when you consider this. Today’s attendance at Shatin Racecourse was around 23,000, a year-on-year percentage drop of about 22 per cent, and turnover was down 6.8 per cent. Go figure.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1606266/live-thousands-hit-streets-occupy-central-enters-fourth-night

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From CNBC

Thousands of protesters campaigned for full democracy in Hong Kong over the weekend, raising the question: Could unrest spread to mainland China.

“Today is a very important moment for Beijing and for the Hong Kong government because if they don’t control the streets of Hong Kong today they could see this thing start to mushroom,” Gordon Chang, author of ‘The Coming Collapse of China’ told CNBC on Monday.

“Beijing has a lot at stake here as this is something that could spread…political scientists call it the ‘demonstration effect,'” he said. “We’re starting to see that now in China.”

Read MoreHere’s how the protests will hit Hong Kong’s economy

Netizens across China shared images from the protests and expressed their views via social media, but authorities quickly deleted posts and shut down websites, in line with China’s history of censorship.

Popular photo sharing website Instagram was blocked after photos and videos from the Hong Kong protests were posted, according to numerous reports. Meanwhile, the phrase “Occupy Central” was blocked on Weibo – the hugely popular micro-blogging site in China – on Sunday.

Signs of spreading?

Ripples of discontent have begun to show in Taiwan and Macau.

Related:

Defiant Hong Kong protesters demand leader steps down

October 1, 2014

HONG KONG Wed Oct 1, 2014 9:34am EDT

(Reuters) – Thousands of pro-democracy protesters thronged the streets of Hong Kong on Wednesday, some of them jeering National Day celebrations, and students threatened to ramp up demonstrations if the city’s pro-Beijing leader did not step down.

There was little sign of momentum flagging on the fifth day of the “Occupy Central” protest, whose aim has been to occupy sections of the city, including around the Central financial district, in anger at a Chinese decision to limit voters’ choices in a 2017 leadership election.

Student protesters gather outside the venue of the official flag-raising ceremony for celebrations of China's National Day, in Hong Kong October 1, 2014.  REUTERS-Tyrone Siu

Student protesters gather outside the venue of the official flag-raising ceremony for celebrations of China’s National Day, in Hong Kong October 1, 2014.  Credit: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Many had feared police would use force to move crowds before Wednesday’s celebrations marking the anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Those fears proved unfounded, and police stayed in the background.

The crowds have brought large sections of the Asian financial hub to a standstill, disrupting businesses from banks to jewelers. There were no reports of trouble on Wednesday, but witnesses said the number of protesters swelled in the evening.

Hong Kong student leader Lester Shum issued an ultimatum to the city’s leader Leung Chun-ying: step down or else face wider protests.

“We will escalate the action if CY Leung doesn’t resign by tonight or tomorrow night. We will occupy more government facilities and offices,” he told reporters, without elaborating.

“I believe the government is trying to buy more time. They want to use tactics such as sending some people to create chaos so that they would have a good reason to disperse the crowd.”Riot police had used tear gas, pepper spray and baton charges at the weekend to try to quell the unrest, but tensions have eased since then as both sides appeared ready to wait it out, at least for now.

The protests are the worst in Hong Kong since China resumed its rule of the former British colony in 1997. They pose one of the biggest political challenges for Beijing since it violently crushed pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

“SOFTER” APPROACH

A government source with ties to the chief executive said Leung and his advisers planned to soften their approach.

“It may take a week or a month, we don’t know. Unless there’s some chaotic situation, we won’t send in riot police … we hope this doesn’t happen,” the source said.

China has dismissed the protests as illegal, but in a worrying sign for the Communist Party leadership in Beijing, the pro-democracy protests have spread to neighboring Macau and Taiwan.

On Wednesday, the Hong Kong demonstrations moved into Tsim Sha Tsui, a shopping area popular with mainland Chinese visitors. It would normally be doing roaring trade during the annual National Day holiday.

Underlining nervousness among some activists that provocation on National Day could spark violence, protest leaders urged crowds not to disturb the flag-raising ceremony on the Victoria Harbour waterfront.

The event went ahead peacefully, although scores of students who ringed the ceremony at Bauhinia Square booed as the national anthem was played.

A beaming Leung shook hands with supporters waving the Chinese flag, even as protesters who want him to stand down chanted: “We want real democracy.”

“We hope that all sectors of the community will work with the government in a peaceful, lawful, rational and pragmatic manner … and make a big step forward in our constitutional development,” Leung said in a speech.

The Hong Kong and Chinese flags billowed in the wind at the completion of the ceremony, but one of the main protest groups said they marked the occasion “with a heavy heart”.

SOLIDARITY

Cracking down too hard could shake confidence in market-driven Hong Kong, which has a separate legal system from the rest of China. Not reacting firmly enough, however, could embolden dissidents on the mainland.

China rules Hong Kong under a “one country, two systems” formula that accords it some autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, with universal suffrage an eventual goal.

However, protesters reacted angrily when Beijing decreed on Aug. 31 that it would vet candidates wishing to run for Hong Kong’s leadership.

Leung has said Beijing would not back down in the face of protests and that Hong Kong police would be able to maintain security without help from People’s Liberation Army troops from the mainland.

Protesters have dug in, setting up supply stations with water bottles, fruit, disposable raincoats, towels, goggles, face masks, crackers and tents.

CENSORSHIP

In contrast to National Day celebrations in Hong Kong, hundreds of people attended a tightly choreographed flag-raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The daily event was typically austere, with goose stepping troops and a brass band.

Communist Party leaders in Beijing worry that calls for democracy could spread to the mainland, and have been aggressively censoring news and social media comments about the Hong Kong demonstrations.

A strongly worded editorial in the People’s Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, attacked the Occupy Central protests as being confrontational.

“And now, a handful of people are bent on confronting the law and stirring up trouble. (They) will eventually suffer the consequences of their actions,” it said on Wednesday.

Rights groups said that a number of mainland activists supporting the Hong Kong protests had been detained or intimidated by police on the mainland.

The turmoil has hit the share market, with the city’s benchmark index registering a 7.3 percent fall over the past month. Markets are closed on Wednesday and Thursday for the holiday.

Some banks and other financial firms have begun moving staff to back-up premises on the outskirts of the city to prevent growing unrest in the financial hub from disrupting trading and other critical functions, two business services firms said.

Mainland Chinese visiting Hong Kong had differing views on the demonstrations.

“For the first time in my life, I feel close to politics,” said a 29-year-old tourist from Beijing surnamed Yu. “I believe something like this will happen in China one day.”

But a woman surnamed Lin, from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, said the protesters’ demands for a democratic election were “disrespectful to the mainland”.

“Even though the government has brought a lot of development to Hong Kong, they don’t acknowledge this,” Lin said.

In Taipei’s Liberty Square, some 2,000 mostly young protesters, many wearing symbolic yellow ribbons in a show of solidarity, encouraged Hong Kong people to fight for democracy.

The Hong Kong protests have been watched closely in Taiwan, which has full democracy but is considered by Beijing as a renegade province that must one day be reunited with the mainland.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has said Beijing needed “to listen carefully to the demands of the Hong Kong people”.

In the former Portuguese colony of Macau, which like Hong Kong is now a Chinese “special administrative region”, a similar movement has called for changes in the way the gambling hub chooses its leader.

(Additional reporting by Farah Master, Diana Chan, Twinnie Siu, Yimou Lee, Kinling Lo, Charlie Zhu, James Pomfret, John Ruwitch, Clare Baldwin, Diana Chan and Anne Marie Roantree in HONG KONG,Sui-Lee Wee in BEIJING and Michael Gold in TAIPEI; Writing by Paul Tait and Jeremy Laurence; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

U.S Reaction To Pro-Democracy Push in Hong Kong Too Timid? — Is Silence Golden?

October 1, 2014
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US approach risks looking increasingly thin and weak on democracy
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As the sun rises in Hong Kong, thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators continue to hold their ground. Now in it’s fifth day, the protests against Beijing’s decision not to grant free and open
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Washington — As pro-democracy protesters have filled central Hong Kong – and ignored orders to disband – the United States has toed a careful line: supporting Hong Kongers’ right to free expression, but avoiding public criticism of China and the political decisions out of Beijing that sparked the protests.
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“The United States supports universal suffrage in Hong Kong in accordance with the basic law and we support the aspirations of the Hong Kong people,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said this week.
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Yet with each day that the protesters refuse to back down, the cautious US approach risks looking increasingly thin and weak on democracy, supporters of a more robust US response say. Some are already calling for sanctions along the lines of those slapped on China in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
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Recommended: How much do you know about China? Take our quiz.

The get-tough-with-China-now camp is also blasting Britain for what some saw as a wobbly show of support for the protest movement. The government of Prime Minister David Cameron said it was monitoring the demonstrations closely and that the people’s rights need to be “preserved” even as the protesters need to exercise those rights “within the law.”

But some US-China experts counter that the US is right to take a cautious approach, especially in its public comments on what is still an evolving – and so far largely peaceful – struggle.

“Washington has to walk a fairly careful line here, especially when you have the Chinese already making the claim, unfortunately, that the Hong Kong protests are externally motivated,” says Dean Cheng, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center in Washington. “Any really overt level of support for the protesters’ demands would only reinforce those claims.”

What should be occurring behind the scenes, Mr. Cheng adds, is a strong message to Chinese officials – and in particular to President Xi Jinping – that repression cannot be an option, and that how Beijing resolves the crisis will have significant repercussions for Hong Kong’s and China’s relations with the world.

“I would hope that Washington is making it very clear that 25 years after Tiananmen Square, the world is smaller, the whole world is watching Hong Kong, and that any forceful suppression of the Hong Kong protests will result in an even stronger backlash against China than in 1989,” he says.

The Hong Kong protests were sparked by Beijing’s recent announcement that, while it will allow the city’s next chief executive to be elected by universal suffrage in elections set for 2017, it will now insist on vetting the candidates. Pro-democracy demonstrators say the new restrictions violate the “basic law” adopted when the former British colony was turned over to Beijing in 1997.

As Mr. Xi navigates what is arguably the first crisis of his tenure, Cheng says the Chinese leader is being pulled between two key demands: to “stay firm, stay strong” toward the protesters on one hand, but to “keep Hong Kong viable as a world financial center” on the other.

Especially with the Chinese economy slowing, the US can remind Beijing of its interest in seeing Hong Kong remain a top international investment destination and not a new symbol of Chinese repression, Cheng says – but again, that kind of diplomacy should be carried out in private, he says.

Xi also can be reminded that Beijing’s vision of “one country, two systems” is being tested in Hong Kong and watched closely, Cheng says – by the whole world in a general sense, but with particular interest by Taiwan, he adds, where Beijing wants to see that same vision applied.

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2014/0930/Is-US-being-weak-or-careful-on-Hong-Kong-protests-video

Hong Kong democracy ‘grandfather’ says Britain was better than China

Pope Francis: Practice of putting elderly into care is often a form of ‘hidden euthanasia’

October 1, 2014

 

  • Pope Francis made the comments during a speech to honour grandparents
  • He said a society that doesn’t care for the elderly ‘has no future’
  • And that care facilities, must ‘truly be homes, not prisons’

By Hannah Roberts for the Daily Mail

Pope Francis has condemned the practice of leaving the elderly in care homes as a form of 'hidden euthanasia', while speaking at a special mass in Rome to honour grandparents

Pope Francis has condemned the practice of leaving the elderly in care homes as a form of ‘hidden euthanasia’.He stressed the importance of taking care of the elderly properly and warned of a ‘poisonous’ culture in which they are effectively abandoned in institutions where they may suffer neglect and loneliness. ‘How many times we discard older people with attitudes that are akin to a hidden form of euthanasia,’ he added.‘There must never be institutions where the elderly are forgotten, hidden or neglected,’ he said.

 

The Pope recognised that residential homes can be necessary for those who have no family to care for them, but said they must truly be ‘homes, not prisons’ and must serve the interests and needs of the residents.

The 77-year-old told the crowd at St Peter’s Basilica that this culture ‘hurts our world’ and said a society that does not care for grandparents ‘has no future’.

At a special mass in Rome to honour grandparents, the Pope praised the value of the older generation to society.

The Pope praised the value of the older generation to society

Pope Francis has condemned the practice of leaving the elderly in care homes as a form of ‘hidden euthanasia’, while speaking at a special mass in Rome to honour grandparents

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Describing old age as ‘a time of grace’, Francis reminded the congregation that grandparents have a lot of wisdom to pass down to the next generation.

He said a grandfather is in a way ‘twice a father’ and a grandmother ‘twice a mother’, adding: ‘Blessed are those families who have grandparents nearby.’

Pope Francis said that the culture of putting the elderly in care homes  'hurts our world' and said a society that does not care for grandparents 'has no future'

Pope Francis said that the culture of putting the elderly in care homes ‘hurts our world’ and said a society that does not care for grandparents ‘has no future’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2775836/Dont-dump-gran-care-home-urged-Pope-Francis-says-practice-putting-elderly-care-form-hidden-euthanasia.html#ixzz3EtTZNvAd
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Pope Francis said that the culture of putting the elderly in care homes ‘hurts our world’ and said a society that does not care for grandparents ‘has no future’

Francis embraced him twice and took the opportunity to express his admiration for his predecessor, saying that he was ‘very happy to have him living in the Vatican as it was like having a wise old granddad in the house’.

He has previously admitted that he continues to asks Benedict for advice.

On the way back from his visit to South Korea in August, Francis told journalists: ‘We see each other. I went to find him before this trip. He wrote to me two weeks ago asking my opinion about a paper he had written. He encourages me.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2775836/Dont-dump-gran-care-home-urged-Pope-Francis-says-practice-putting-elderly-care-form-hidden-euthanasia.html#ixzz3EtSkva8I Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Art: Job and his Wife By Albrecht Dürer

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