A Lesson from Hong Kong

Internet is becoming a decisive factor in the democracy of Hong Kong.

According to the recent article published by McClatchy DC, 3.5 million registered voters in Hong Kong are making a statement: “they want ballot choices in 2017.” However “China’s Communist Party is saying they want to control those choices.”

The key in all of this is the magic of having open internet in Hong Kong which has allowed democracy advocates to “conclude an informal poll on the ground rules for the 2017 election to determine the territory’s next chief executive. This has incited Beijing which “has strongly condemned the grass-roots referendum, calling it ‘illegal’ and a ‘farce.’ But it seams, the more the Chinese government fulminates, the more Hong Kong residents line up to register their wishes, both online and at ballot boxes.” In fact “as of Monday, more than 700,000 registered voters had participated, mostly by using smartphone apps or the Internet.”

The group responsible for launching the poll is Occupy Central, who was overwhelmed by the response, stating it was “seven times” the number of voters they expected. The poll was launched Friday night and it will continue through Sunday. Now the group is hopeful that “1 million voters will send a strong message to Beijing and the Hong Kong government, which also has rejected the referendum’s legitimacy.”

The Hong Kong example shows how the open internet in the hands of the people promotes democracy and involves citizens to choose their leaders and decide their own future. Seven months ago, The South China Morning Post (SCMP), the first English language Hong Kong newspaper that was also mentioned in the McClatchy DC piece, published an article about the Connect Cuba campaign, which aims to give Cuban civil society access to the open internet in a country that is the least connected in the entire Western Hemisphere. The piece was aptly titled “Gloria Estefan and Willy Chirino back data blitz to beat censorship in Cuba.” It seems that all around the world, democratic movements are dancing to a similar beat.