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They won't see it on CCTV in the motherland - it won't be reported anyway. At least 400,000 Hongkongers, snaking all over Central in absolutely sweltering heat, from early afternoon until deep into the night, and from all walks of life (tycoons excluded), all of them expressing their anger at Hong Kong's new CEO, pro-Beijing property developer Leung Chun-ying; the notion of "one country, two systems"; their impossibility to actually vote; and last but not least, motherland China.
Hong Kong's 3.4 million registered voters are fed up with the stratospheric wealth gap graphically expressed by multi-billionaires flaunting their wealth in contrast to people actually living in cages in Kowloon; income inequality has never been higher over the past four decades. They want serious measures against air pollution. They want proper pensions. They want adequate housing at reasonable prices. And most of all they want to vote. A Hong Kong Spring has been brewing in slow motion for 15 years now.
Officially, it was time to proclaim the success of the unique "one country, two systems" formula that allowed the handover of sovereignty to take place in that same convention center on July 1, 1997, with a wholly different cast of characters on stage - among them, at the top of the bill, Britain's Prince Charles, the then Chinese president Jiang Zimen, outgoing governor Chris Patten and incoming chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, the territory's first Chinese leader.
Complicating the city's social and economic landscape, a wave of newly rich, free-spending visitors from the mainland have been buying up everything from property to baby formula milk, driving up prices and becoming easy scapegoats for the anger and resentment felt by the growing "have-not" population, as well as an increasingly pinched middle class. Nearly 20% of Hong Kong families now live below the poverty line, many of them in "shoe-box" apartments or, even worse, "cage homes" so small that dwellers must sleep in the fetal position. Adding further to social discontent, the men and women whom the underclass blame for their plight, Hong Kong's leaders, are the world's highest-paid bureaucrats with the exception of those in Singapore.