Taipei, Sept. 28 (CNA) Whether the pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong will win broader public support hinges on it remaining peaceful, a lead Taiwanese scholar of China affairs commented Sunday.
A student-led protest and the Occupy Central movement converged at 1:30 a.m. Sunday, bringing thousands to occupy the square in front of the special administrative region's government headquarters to voice their desire to freely choose their top leader in the 2017 election, a request that Beijing has dodged by using various restrictions.
Chang Wu-ueh, head of Graduate Institute of China Studies at New Taipei's Tamkang University, told CNA that the topics to watch are whether the huge rally can remain peaceful, how long it can continue, and how much support it can receive from Hong Kong and abroad.
According to Chang, the pro-democracy camp knows well that bloodshed will do no good for their cause, meaning they are likely to try to keep the demonstration under control.
Dismissing media speculation that Beijing might deploy the People's Liberation Army to dispel the protesters, Chang stressed that Beijing "will not possibly deploy the military."
"Beijing knows very clearly that if it resorts to the use of force, it will worsen the conflict and lose international support," Chang said, adding that "only those who do not understand Hong Kong or do not understand Beijing" would think the Chinese government would consider force to end protests.
But that does not mean things will settle down anytime soon.
Chang contended that "Hong Kong would go through more political turbulence before 2016," when the election for the Legislative Council is to be held. Universal suffrage to allow Hongkongers to select their lawmakers and chief executive are the most dominant issues in the Hong Kong politics.
The China expert also believes the ongoing protest in Hong Kong will not change Beijing's stance over the nominally autonomous region. Although it is extremely unlikely for Beijing to allow universal suffrage and open elections in 2017, he said, there might be room to negotiate on the makeup of the nomination council for the candidates in that election.
(By Yin Chun-chieh and Flor Wang)enditem/WH
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