HONG KONG – Hong Kong students are preparing for a showdown with Beijing over democratic reforms by boycotting classes today, as a restive younger generation challenges China’s tightening grip.
China’s rejection of the demand by Hong Kong’s democratic camp, to freely choose Hong Kong’s next leader in 2017, has prompted threats by activists to shut down the Central financial district, to make Beijing capitulate.
As a prelude to the Occupy Central shutdown expected to be carried out next month, students from 24 universities and colleges are planning a week-long campaign of civil disobedience, including classroom strikes, mass gatherings and downtown protests.
The students plan to hold a mass assembly at a university campus today before “relocating” to other public areas, including a site near government headquarters that some say could snowball into something bigger.
It is not clear, though, how many students will take part in the strike.
Mr Benny Tai, one of the organisers of the Occupy Central movement, said it may launch its sit-in early if the students gain momentum.
Some academics in Hong Kong have voiced support for the boycott, with some offering to record lectures and post them online for students who miss school to watch later.
“The new generation is totally dissatisfied,” said Mr Alex Chow, leader of the Hong Kong Federation of Students which said in a statement that Beijing had “murdered” Hong Kong’s hopes and “three-decade-long struggle to realise full democracy”.
But the strike may not gain wide support as earlier polls on the Central District sit-in showed Hong Kongers are generally lukewarm to hard-ball tactics by the democrats.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE