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tv   Asia Insight  PBS  November 25, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm PST

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. it's the day of the 18th anniversary of hong kong's return to china. as with other years, a demonstration opposing some of the hong kong special administrative region and
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government's policies is taking place. the march always begins in victoria park. according to the organizers, 510,000 protesters participated last year. many of them gathering several hours before the start. in september, 2014, the world witnessed the so-called umbrella revolution. named after the way pro
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democracy marchers used umbrellas to protect themselves from tear gas. students and citizens occupied the streets for 79 days, demanding true universal suffrage. not one of their demands were met. the lack of change created a sense of hopelessness. pro-democracy groups disbanded and some residents began resenting activities that disrupted daily life.
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♪ >> the annual ceremony to mark hong kong's return to chinese rule was a lavish event. 1200 guests from china and overseas attended. hong kong's chief executive ying was critical of prodemocracy faction and their revised electoral bill. he also reemphasized stronger ties with beijing. >> there has been no compromise towards citizens seeking genuine
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democracy or true universal suffrage. in this episode, we see where the people of the umbrella revolution are now and hear their thoughts for the future. we began our filming for this episode roughly a week before the 18th anniversary of hong kong's return to chinese rule. we had been following the prodemocracy movement since last year's anniversary. and we're there the night before the umbrella revolution reached its there the night bef the umbrella revolution reached its peak.,. and were there the night before the umbrella revolution reached
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its pea and were there the night before the umbrella revolution reached its peak. by the time marchers reached the square in front of the hong kong government headquarters, protesters were already occupying the central district. over 100,000 people blocked the streets. protesters of all ages passionately cried out for hong kong's future until everything was forcefully broken up on december 15th. some students still visit the heavily fortified hong kong government headquarters. we met a man who continues to stage a solitary sit-in.
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>> the universal restricts candidates for hong kong public office to government-approved personnel. benny die yew tongue initiated the campaign. he originally intended to put his plan into action on october 1st. but students mobilized sooner. di rushed to the site.
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>> after ti's declaration, the occupy central operation kicked off on a full scale. footage soon found its way across hong kong and the rest of the world. the following day, many came to join the protest. streaming out of train stations near the occupied areas.streami near the occupied areas. the police's use of tear gas only served to anger and attract more people, many of whom had little awareness of democratization and universal suffrage until then.
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>> prodemocracy groups have split up and ti and his group eventually surrendered to the police on december 3rd, 2014. ti serves as an associate professor of law at the university of hong kong. it's where the hong kong federation of students is based, a pro-democracy organization made up of eight universities, and the main player in the umbrella revolution. but due to the failure to produce change, the steering
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committee clashed with radical elements who wanted to strengthen demonstrations and demands. the university of hong kong eventually split from the federation following a vote in february. there were also rumors that ti had left hong kong. we were unable to contact him before we arrived. meanwhile, another man from hong kong has been actively working with the goal of making china a democracy. l leicheukian went to beijing to join the students and their protest 26 years ago.
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>> la teesha ying is on the other side of the fence. she led an anti-umbrella revolution protest immediately after the streets were occupied. she says some 10,000 people joined her.
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>> everyone has their reasons for being for or against the pro-democracy movement. financial factors play a key part. when hong kong was returned to chinese rule, its gdp comprised 18% of china's total. but now it stands at less than 3%. hong kong's economic dependence
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on the main land increases every year.
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>> this footage shows student joshua wong returning to the protest after being questioned by the police. wong is the leader of scholarism, a pro-democracy group consisting mostly of teenagers.
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>> over six months on from the umbrella revolution, wong's group shows no sign of weakening and has stepped up its activism. >> now that the hong kong federation of students has split, wong's role has become much more significant. these days, his schedule is set by the minute. >> as wong's workload increases, scholarism is training other members to carry the torch. agnes, the sao, founds fondly known as the goddess of
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scholarism is one of them. during the umbrella revolution she slept out in tents on streets for days on end working as the group's spokeswoman. but suddenly in the middle of the unrest, she quit her post. tsao first started working as the group's spokeswoman after becoming a member in 2012. she's currently the host of an online program hosted once a week and also gives lectures. tsao says that at one point, she had considered leaving scholarism all together.
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>> in the end, tsao decided to stay on and still feels there is a lot more she is offer to the movement. >> her talk comes from her struggles fighting for what she believes in. it's her way of passing on the umbrella revolution to future generations. as students fought for the future of hong kong, one family was inspired to join them.
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this couple had no interest in politics prior to the umbrella revolution. they have two daughters, one in high school, and one in college. it was their younger daughter that changed their feelings.
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>> concerned about their children's future, the couple is now part of a civic group of like-minded parents. benny ti tinge, the professor of law who assistanted facilitate occupy central finally contacted us. >> hi. >> hi. nice the meet you. >> nice to meet you.
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>> the umbrella revolution may not have achieved its ultimate goal. but he believes it was a major step forward for hong kong's democratization and he feels nothing but gratitude to the students who stood up.
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>> it's 3:00 p.m., and the protesters leave victoria park for the 2015 march. according to the organizers, 48,000 people took part, under a tenth of last year. but despite the low numbers, there were some new participants out as well. >> the cheung family are out too, distributing flyers.
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>> agnes chow from scholarism is there, too.
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>> pursuing true democracy in communist china is is a far from easy task. but that won't deter the people of hong kong from seeking to chart their own course for the future.
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glad to have you with us on this edition of "newsline". it's thursday, november 26th. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. russia is continuing to hammer turkey. one of the pilots was shot dead by insurgents in the area. russia insists it did not violate turkey's air space. after being rescued the pilot was interviewed by russian media. he insists his war plane did not violate turkish air space for


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