Members of three pan-democratic groups covered the Golden Bauhinia, an iconic symbol of Hong Kong’s handover, in black cloth on Monday. The act was in protest against the government ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit later this week.
Protesters included Demosisto secretary-general Joshua Wong Chi-fung, People Power activist Tam Tak-chi and representatives from the League of Social Democrats. They covered the Golden Bauhinia statue in Wan Chai – a gift from the central government to mark the city’s 1997 transfer of sovereignty from Britain to China – in black fabric at about 6am.
Security guards at Golden Bauhinia Square tried to stop them but failed.
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It comes just before an official visit by President Xi Jinping, who will be in Hong Kong from Thursday to Saturday to mark the 20th anniversary of the handover and to swear in the city’s new administration.
“The ‘one country, two systems’ policy is waning as the Chinese government continuously intervenes in the Hong Kong’s administration,” said Wong in the morning.
“The Gold Bauhinia statue was given by the Chinese government as a gift, but it’s merely an illusion and a lie. We’re now calling for everyone to take part in the protest on July 1. From Thursday to Saturday during the visit by President Xi Jinping, we ask everyone to use every means to express their opinions” he said.
Demosisto also explained the meaning of the black-cloaked statue in its statement.
“The black-cloaked statue symbolises the hard-line rule of the authoritarian regime over the past 20 years, meaning that the Chinese government failed to honour the promises made in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, depriving Hong Kong people of civil and political rights to free elections and democracy.”
They said their move was meant to express anger and disappointment at the administration for major political errors since 1997.
“The grip on civil society has been tightened since the Umbrella Movement. China also interferes with the internal affairs of Hong Kong through various means. Our confidence in ‘one country, two systems’ has waned and has been replaced by the fear of it becoming ‘one country, 1.5 systems’,” the statement continued.
Police officers were later called in to remove the black cloth.