Long after the Occupy camps at Zuccotti Park in Manhatttan and St. Paul’s Cathedral and Finsbury Park in London were evicted or disbanded, an encampment in an unlikely location defiantly remains.
For nine months, protesters in Hong Kong have been occupying an open-air plaza beneath the Asian headquarters of HSBC in Central, Hong Kong’s financial district. Many in the city have expressed surprised that the bank allowed the encampment to remain for so long, but the tense truce between HSBC and activists from the Occupy movement is now at an end.
Occupy Hong Kong: October 2011
In an initial court ruling, the New York Times reports three named defendants (Ho Yiu-shing, Wong Chung-hang, and Mui Kai-ming), who have no lawyers and are representing themselves, were asked to submit reasons they should be allowed to stay.
HSBC’s main complaint is that the camp is “now attracting homeless and otherwise vulnerable people”.
Bank spokesman Gareth Hewett said: “I don’t think we’re talking about many people. Less than five stay overnight and during the day it’s six or seven. At weekends it’s a bit more.”
A follow-up hearing is scheduled for August 13, but some of the protesters say they intend to stay regardless of the outcome.
New York Times:
“If there’s an order for us to move out at last, we will try our best to stay,” Mr. Wong said. “Of course, some of us don’t believe in law and may not follow the court order.”
“Our victory or defeat is not determined by the court,” Leung Wing-lai, a participant of Occupy Central, said to Bloomberg News. “We’re not going to leave. We’re still operating. We’re not going to pay any attention to the court’s decision.”
The Times reports on the disenchantment many in Hong Kong feel as the wealth gap widens, property prices soar, and citizens increasingly feel marginalized.
The average home price is around 13 times the median annual household income.
Hong Kong’s Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality in which zero represents perfect equality and 1 means one person holds all the income, rose to 0.537 last year, according to government figures released last month. That is the highest reading for any developed economy in Asia.