Tens of thousands vote in Hong Kong's online democracy 'referendum'
Published on Jun 20, 2014 2:06 PM
HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Tens of thousands of people voted for full democracy in Hong Kong within the first hour of an unofficial online referendum, a civil campaign that has sparked warnings from China's Communist Party leaders.
Social tensions have steadily risen in the former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997 - with pro-democracy activists threatening to blockade part of the city's financial district if China doesn't allow opposition candidates to run in a 2017 election.
While Beijing says Hong Kong can go ahead with a city-wide vote in 2017 for the city's top leader, the most far-reaching experiment in democracy in China since the Communist takeover in 1949, senior Chinese officials have ruled out allowing the public to nominate candidates. Instead, Beijing insists a small committee of largely pro-Beijing loyalists choose who gets on the ballot, which would effectively render the ability to vote meaningless.
Even with the 'PopeVote' website functioning only intermittently after a cyber attack earlier in the week, more than 50,000 votes were cast within an hour and a half of opening, said pro-democracy activists who organised the ballot. Most of the votes were cast through a smartphone app. Some 37,000 registered to vote in the days beforehand.
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