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Christina Chan : Democracy Flame in Hong Kong
Friday, 16 July 2010 21:02

She's young. She's beautiful. She's smart. Christina Chan is emerging as the new face of Hong Kong's increasingly disaffected.
For Hong Kong's scandal-driven media, 22-year-old Chan offers a prism through which to view the increasingly angry "post-80s generation."
Yet it's a shoe that doesn't quite fit, says Chan. The graduate student in philosophy agrees that dissatisfaction in the former British colony is on the rise. But she insists the backlash on the
streets is not just coming from young people. "This is not a generational war," she says.
Frustrations are brewing among a large swath of Hong Kong society including rural dwellers, middle-aged workers and teens who want their voices to be heard, says Chan.
"People are getting angrier and angrier," she says. According to Chan, citizens' rage is fueled by the government's failure to deliver on its promise of democracy and its growing heavy-handedness in dealing with protests.

Yet as she sips on a mineral water at a coffee shop in a swanky Hong Kong mall, Chan doesn't come across as a typical angry activist. Instead she oozes quiet confidence and effortless coolness. Born in Hong Kong and educated in England during her teens, Chan says she fell into political activism by accident.
"The reason I am here today is because I organized some random event on Facebook," she says in a reference to demonstration she organized protesting China's treatment of Tibet in 2008. Her access to the social networking website was shut down on two separate occasions without explanation.
Chan says she wouldn't be surprised if authorities in Beijing were behind the crack down. "The Chinese government is a super oppressive power, obsessed with control," she says.
When Beijing won jurisdiction over Hong Kong in 1997, it promised to protect the rights and freedoms of the former colony under the "One Country, Two Systems" approach. Part of the deal was a promise of universal suffrage for the city's 7 million residents.
That promise has not yet been fully fulfilled. Today, half of Hong Kong's Legislative Council's 60 seats are geographical constituencies contested under a "one person one vote system." The others are functional constituencies where voting rights are given to a selected few based on criteria such as belonging to a particular profession, industry or trade.
The territory's leader, the chief executive, is selected by a committee of 800 people chosen by the Beijing government.
Universal suffrage has been postponed until later this decade. But for many like Christina Chan, that deadline is too far off. The territory's undemocratic political system is prompting people to vent that it is unfair to a degree rarely seen in Hong Kong before.

 

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