Happy 15th anniversary Hong Kong! Uh…

A banner year for China. The country is set to transfer power to a new regime, it’s widely agreed now that China is a (the?) major world power, and it’s been 15 years since Hong Kong shifted back to Chinese rule.

However, not everyone is so thrilled about that last bit. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong today, protesting for democracy to mark the 15th anniversary. The BBC’s Juliana Leu had more:

“There was a carnival atmosphere, with pro-democracy political parties chanting slogans. Members of civic groups showed off their singing and dancing skills. And supporters of the Falun Gong spiritual group, which is banned in mainland China, sat peacefully in the lotus position, before joining in the protest with their marching band.

Elaine Mok, a demonstrator who took part with her extended family, told me she marches nearly every year in order to fight for justice and the rule of law, and to oppose mainland interference in Hong Kong affairs. They were there, she said, to remind their Chinese overlords that Hong Kong people want the right to vote, as promised when this city returned to mainland rule.

Most of the protesters were professionals like Ms Mok. Some families brought their young children. A broad cross-section of Hong Kong society gathered to agitate against one-party rule in China and to demand the right to universal suffrage, which people here increasingly believe is their natural birthright.”

Also not helping things was President Hu Jintao handing power over to businessman Cy Leung, an event which was also marked by protests:

“At the swearing-in ceremony, Mr Hu offered “warm congratulations” to the 57-year-old Mr Leung and his team and described the 15th anniversary as a ‘joyous occasion’.

He reiterated Beijing’s commitment to the ‘one country, two systems’ policy whereby Hong Kongers are allowed many more political freedoms than Chinese people on the mainland.

Mr Hu continued the address despite an interruption by a member of the crowd, who was heard calling for a condemnation of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and an end to one-party rule in China.

The man, who was a guest at the inauguration ceremony, was quickly bundled out of the harbourfront building by security.”

What do you think? Is it time for China to give Hong Kong some measure of autonomy?

Read more on France, China, America and the world beyond in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique.

We’re mere hours away from the Summer edition of Carnet Atlantique!! If you’re a fan of Elaine Sciolino, you will want to check out our July issue. Keep your eyes on this space!

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