Thousands protest against ‘Anti-Occupy’ reform movement

BY Carey Reed  August 17, 2014 at 6:50 PM EST
Anti-Occupy Central protestors hold flags for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and People Republic of China during a "Walk For Peace And Universal Suffrage" on Sunday, August 17, 2014. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Anti-Occupy Central protestors hold flags for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and People Republic of China during a “Walk For Peace And Universal Suffrage” on Sunday, August 17, 2014. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Thousands braved the Hong Kong heat on Sunday for an all-day anti-Occupy movement protest rally. At issue: electoral reform in Hong Kong.

The grassroots pro-democracy group “Occupy Central” has been pushing for greater freedoms in the 2017 elections, including the right to choose the candidates that make it onto the ballot.

Occupy Central began staging peaceful protests at the beginning of July to coincide with the anniversary of Britain handing Hong Kong back over to China.

Participants in the rally Sunday, sponsored by The Alliance for Peace and Democracy, are standing against Occupy’s protests. According to the BBC, supporters of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy group are concerned that Occupy Central’s plans for civil disobedience, including protests in Hong Kong’s central business district, may negatively impact Hong Kong’s relationship with China and ultimately — the Hong Kong economy.

A number of the organizations backing The Alliance for Peace and Democracy are pro-Beijing.

Hong Kong ’s current Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying, was chosen by a 1,200-member committee. While he publicly supports electoral reform and universal suffrage, he does so within a political framework established by China’s communist authorities, The Telegraph reports.

Sunday’s protest was the culmination of a month-long campaign in which The Alliance for Peace and Democracy claims it collected 128,624 signatures and 1.3 million actual signatures, including Chun-ying’s, at more than 20 locations throughout Hong Kong.

The next election will be held in 2017.