China extends reach into Hong Kong to thwart democrats

Reuters
Date:  Jun 19, 2015
By: James Pomfret and Greg Torode

Hong Kong’s democrats won their battle to veto a Beijing-backed electoral reform package, but face an

Flagbearers lower a Chinese national flag beside a banner set up by pro-democracy protesters outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 16, 2015.     REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Flagbearers lower a Chinese national flag beside a banner set up by pro-democracy protesters outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

increasingly organized campaign by pro-Chinese government movements in the longer war over the former British colony’s democratic future.

The tense hours before the vote sparked protests by dozens of pro-Beijing groups outside the Legislative Council – a push diplomats, politicians and academics believe highlights an intensified effort by China to exert control over the Asian financial hub.

That effort is run through the United Front Work Department, a branch of the Communist Party’s Central Committee with a mission to spread China’s reach by gaining control and influence over a range of groups not affiliated with the party, sources with ties to Beijing have told Reuters.

United Front Hong Kong operations have expanded since mass pro-democracy protests last year, when the so-called Occupy Central movement shut down parts of the city, a Reuters study has found. The United Front Work Department did not respond to requests for comment.     [FULL  STORY]

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