We here in Hong Kong love a good protest. We arrive en masse in an orderly fashion – queuing politely to exit the MTR at the designated assembly spot. We bring placards and banners with wonderfully pithy sayings. We gather around a wide range of causes from income inequality to political corruption to basic freedoms.
Hell, we even protested at a Dolce & Gabbana store when they refused to allow Hong Kongers to take photos of their store (something they allow Mainlanders to do).
But nothing brings this city together more than Hu Jintao, the President of China. Tens of thousands will show up to protest…everything.
Hu is due in town later today. He’s booked out two hotels for his entourage (The Grand Hyatt and the Hyatt Regency). He’s staying three days. On 1 July he will swear int he new Chief Executive CY Leung and his Administration. He flies out that same day just before the biggest protest gets underway at Victoria Park.
But Hu may have troubles seeing the protesters. Police are deploying two metre high water barriers around the hotel and convention centre.
The officially designated protest zones have not been revealed yet. Yet most are expected further from the action than usual. To overcome this distance a smaller zone is prepared. This will accommodate 5-10 protesters. Hong Kong government officials will accept written messages for Hu.
Of course these preparations have been decried by protest organisers. Some have called it a “public relations show.”
“Hu will have no chance to see the city’s real face. Hong Kong has become a city of barriers,” said Lee Cheuk-yan of the Labour Party
On the upside we may all be able to protest in peace. Police have been advised to avoid arresting anyone during the demonstrations. This has never been a city of rowdy demonstration. Don’t expect a WEF-Davos-G20 melee.
Hong Kong is a polite town, even when there are 500,000 of us united in protest.