USE : upward,completion
2.- opposite actions, usually for machines: She switched the radio on, but
he switched it off
HONG KONG — The appeal of democratic ideas drew thousands of protesters into the streets of Hong Kong on Tuesday in a defiant but largely peaceful march advocating free and open elections for the territory’s chief executive.
A nearly solid river of protesters, most of them young, poured out of Victoria Park through the afternoon and into the evening, heading for the skyscraper-lined canyons of downtown Hong Kong, Asia’s top financial center. There, hundreds staged two sit-ins past dawn, prompting the police to remove and arrest 511 people on charges of obstructing the police and unlawful assembly.
Shouting slogans in Cantonese such as “change comes from the people,” the demonstrators largely stood their ground even after the police warned them that they were in violation of the law. Through the day, the protesters showed their determination by waiting unflinchingly and with barely a complaint under a succession of deluges for a chance to walk through downtown Hong Kong, carrying banners calling for the introduction of full democracy and reading “Say No to Communist China.” And even as organizers boasted of record crowds, they insisted that the protest was merely a dress rehearsal for much larger sit-ins that may happen this year if the Chinese government refuses to allow free elections in this former British colony.
The march came days after nearly 800,000 residents participated in an informal vote on making the selection of the city’s top official more democratic, a vote Beijing dismissed as illegal. It also followed the Chinese cabinet’s release three weeks ago of a so-called white paper that asserted broad central government authority over Hong Kong, angering many residents.
Beijing had promised Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy” before Britain returned the territory to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, and the bluntly worded white paper set off a furious backlash. That backlash has coincided with a contentious debate over how to introduce universal suffrage — one person, one vote — for Hong Kong’s chief executive, to be chosen in elections in 2017.
Tuesday’s protest appeared to rival in size the largest democracy march in Hong Kong’s history, which was held in 2003 when the deadly SARS virus outbreak and a six-year decline in the housing market produced widespread discontent. The 2003 protest, which lasted seven hours, drew at least 500,000 people, according to organizers, while the police estimated that 350,000 were on the streets at the peak.
The organizers of Tuesday’s march put their estimate at 510,000 people, though they said the crowd was fluid, with a continuous stream from Victoria Park to the heart of downtown for nearly eight hours. A police spokeswoman said late Tuesday evening that the maximum number of people marching at any given time was 98,600, though she did not have an estimate for the number of participants over all.
July 1 is a public holiday in Hong Kong, and large-scale protests on the date have become an annual tradition since the giant march in 2003.
The current demonstrators, drawn out by social media, are younger than previous Hong Kong protesters. They are also more skeptical of the mainstream news media and less interested in legal compromises.
“We believe to change society, we need not our words to appeal to politicians, but to use activism to pressure them,” said Joshua Wong, the 17-year-old leader of Scholarism, a student activist group.
The Hong Kong government issued a statement late Tuesday saying it would take the desires of the protesters into account as it considers ways to introduce universal suffrage. But the statement reaffirmed the government’s position that Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, requires that a nominating committee control who will appear on the ballot for the 2017 election.
The protesters have called for “civil nomination,” arguing that the public should be allowed to propose candidates who would automatically be approved by the nominating committee. By contrast, Beijing wants a powerful nominating committee with a carefully chosen membership that will vet candidates based on their “patriotism,” a term used to reflect loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party.
Several people said they had made a special effort to come to this year’s march, despite having stayed away in past years. “It’s because of the actions done by the Chinese government,” said Ian Tseng, an office worker in his 20s. “The white paper, everything, makes us all feel unhappy.”
Occupy Central With Love and Peace, another pro-democracy group, has been threatening to fill the streets of downtown Hong Kong later this year and engage in a campaign of civil disobedience until the government issues a broadly acceptable plan for greater democracy.
“If the government refused to seriously consider the demand, this group of people, more of them will change from sympathetic to active support, and the sympathetic people may also start all kinds of noncooperative actions,” said Benny Tai, the leader of Occupy Central. “And just think about, how can a government govern if the whole society refuses to cooperate with you?”
To turn off:
Meaning: to stop a piece of equipment working by pressing a button or by moving a switch.
“Will you turn the television off, please?”
USE: termination, opposite to “ON”
To set off:
Meaning: to leave in a trip somewhere
“We set off early the next morning”
USE: in a generally outward direction
To take off:
Meaning: Aircraft start flying
“The plane should take off in time”
USE: in a generally outward direction