This week, a wrap-up of Hong Kong news for your Friday reading:
Anonymous, a loosely-affiliated group of online hacker-activists, is targeting Beijing and the Hong Kong government for their refusal to listen to Hong Kong protestors. “We will shut down China and reboot,” the group promised. On Twitter, various groups citing an Anonymous affiliation bragged about completed and planned attacks using the hashtags #OpHongKong and #OpHK. In particular, Anonymous threatened a major attack on Chinese government websites on October 11. A Twitter account calling itself the “Official #OpHongKong” (@OpHongKong) posted a number of threats on Friday. “Any entity, person, group supporting this tyrannic regime will be dealt with. Do not provide services to the gov,” one tweet read. Another warned, “It does not matter what you are or who. Any entity with major connections to HongKong Domains will be downed.”
Anonymous listed number of Chinese government departments as targets, including the Ministries of Public Security, Defense , and Justice. The group also claimed to have leaked the emails and passwords of some 50,000 Chinese government accounts. When asked about the threats in a regular press conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters, “If this matter turns out to be true, it proves that China is one of the victims of internet hacking attacks.” Hong also reiterated Beijing’s stance that the “Occupy Central” protests are “entirely illegal activities.” China’s central government will resolutely oppose any illegal activities that disrupt Hong Kong’s rule of law and social stability, Hong said.
In other Hong Kong-related news, many analysts saw the protests declining throughout this week. On Thursday, the Hong Kong government announced that it was cancelling Fridays’ planned talks with students, saying that remarks by protest leaders “seriously undermined” the chance “for a constructive dialogue.” David Wertime of Tea Leaf Nation and Foreign Policy interviewed several experts on Hong Kong and Chinese politics, most of whom agree that the announcement may have just re-energized the flagging protest movement.
This week also saw a new bombshell dropped, as the Sydney Morning Herald broke the news that Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung received $6.5 million in undisclosed payments from an Australian firm after he took office. Under the deal, Leung received the payments after Australian engineering firm UGL bought out Leung’s DTZ Holdings. The deal was concluded before Leung was appointed chief executive, but the payouts came in two installments while Leung was in office. SMH described the deal as money given to Leung “in return for supporting [UGL’s] Asian business ambitions.” UGL defended the payout as “standard business practice for such non-poach, non-compete regimes.” Leung’s spokesperson agreed, emphasizing that “the payout … rise[s] from Mr. Leung’s resignation from DTZ, not any future service to be provided by him.” The revelation strengthened call for Leung to step down.Pro-democratic lawmakers have promised to investigate and potentially impeach Leung over the payments.
Meanwhile, Leung himself wrote an op-ed in the New York Times rebutting claims that Hong Kong’s unique freedoms are at risk. “For 17 years since Hong Kong’s return to China, we have, as promised, maintained our common law legal system, a clean and efficient government, and an independent judiciary,” Leung wrote. He also highlighted Hong Kong’s uncensored internet and free press. Leung then defended the electoral plan presented by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on August 31. “Nobody in Hong Kong, or abroad for that matter, can ignore Beijing’s legal authority, whether we talk about the current system of an electoral college or via universal suffrage in 2017,” Leung wrote. “Hong Kong is not an ordinary local democracy… Hong Kong’s future electoral, economic and social development is a natural and legitimate concern of our sovereign.”