Date
24 September 2017
Benny Tai has admitted that Occupy Central has failed to sway Beijing into backing down on the issue of political reform in Hong Kong. Photo: Bloomberg
Benny Tai has admitted that Occupy Central has failed to sway Beijing into backing down on the issue of political reform in Hong Kong. Photo: Bloomberg

Benny Tai admits Occupy Central campaign failed to move Beijing

The Occupy Central campaign has failed to sway the central government into giving concessions on the issue of electoral reforms in Hong Kong, the group’s co-founder Benny Tai said on Tuesday.

In an interview to Bloomberg News, Tai admitted that the pro-democracy movement had failed to force Beijing to back down, and that public support for the campaign could now wane.

China’s rigid stance means “the number of people joining us will not be as big as we expect, because of the very pragmatic thinking of Hong Kong people,” he said, referring to the group’s planned civil disobedience action.

Tai suggested that the turnout for the campaign could be less than the minimum figure of 10,000 that had been expected earlier.

The commercial sector should understand that Occupy Central has no intention of causing damage to Hong Kong’s economy with its planned sit-in, he said, adding that the group will choose a date that will minimize any potential economic impact.

When business executives “know the details of when we will organize this event, they will know we have no intention to damage the economy of Hong Kong,” Tai was quoted as saying. “Even though I cannot mention the date, but if you look at the calendar, you would know which date would cause the minimal damage to Hong Kong’s economy.”

Bloomberg noted that September 9, October 1 and 2 are public holidays in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the Occupy Central’s secretariat said that although the hopes for genuine universal suffrage in 2017 have all but dashed, the movement will still go ahead with its campaign with love and peace, Ming Pao Daily reported.

It added that a number of people, including scholars and professionals, have pledged support for the campaign over the last few days as they feel there is no room for negotiations with the central government.

Eric Cheung from the Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong said Hongkongers should no longer think that China will back down due to the threat of occupation of the Central financial district. But people should nevertheless participate in the campaign to show their spirit and feelings, he said.

Cheung proposed a mock universal suffrage to be held alongside with the one approved by Beijing. If the mock exercise goes well, it could put some pressure on the central government to adjust its stance, he said.

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