Week-long strike on the cards for HK students

Week-long strike on the cards for HK students
Students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong meet next to a replica of the "Goddess of Democracy" statue (L) to discuss a possible student strike in Hong Kong on September 4, 2014.

HONG KONG - Hong Kong students announced plans yesterday to hold a week-long strike in response to Beijing's refusal to grant the semi-autonomous city full universal suffrage.

Activists in the former British colony had their hopes for genuine democracy crushed after China announced on Sunday that the city's next leader would be vetted by a pro-Beijing committee.

A coalition of pro-democracy groups have vowed to usher in a new "era of civil disobedience" against the decision, calling on the people of Hong Kong to blockade major thoroughfares in the city's financial district.

Students plan to walk away from classes on Sept 22 in what they described as a final warning before wider civil disobedience action.

The proposal still needs to be approved by a coalition of student groups and unions tomorrow, leaders said.

"We strike as an ultimatum to warn the government to listen to our opinions," Yvonne Leung, president of the Hong Kong University student union told AFP.

The top committee of China's parliament said on Sunday that Hong Kong citizens will be allowed to elect their next leader in 2017 - but candidates must be approved by a pro-Beijing committee, with only two to three contenders allowed to stand.

Britain handed Hong Kong back to China on July 1, 1997 under a "one country, two systems" agreement which allows civil liberties not seen on the mainland, including free speech and the right to protest.

Hong Kong also hit back yesterday at the former British colony's last governor - who called on China to stand by its promises to the city - saying residents never had a say in who governed them while Britain ruled, Reuters reported.

The comments came a day after Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, said Britain had a moral and political obligation to ensure China respects its commitments to the financial hub.

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