Here's What China's Richest Man Says About The Hong Kong Protests

Jack maREUTERS/Lucy NicholsonJack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California October 27, 2014.

Jack Ma, the CEO of e-commerce giant Alibaba and China’s richest man, appears to have a lot of sympathy for the student-led protests disrupting Hong Kong over that last month.

“Hong Kong part of me (thinks) it’s not about China and Hong Kong relationship. It’s about the young people who don’t have hope,” Ma told a technology conference. “All the big guys take … the good things and the young people feel hopeless. I understand that but they should not push too much. Both sides should listen.”

The financial hub and former British colony of Hong Kong has been rocked by a student-led civil disobedience movement called “Occupy Central” that demands full democracy, sparking clashes with police and other groups.

Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that allows it wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms and specifies universal suffrage for choosing its leader as an ultimate goal.

Hong kongREUTERS/Damir SagoljProtesters open their umbrellas, symbols of pro-democracy movement, as they mark exactly one month since they took the streets in Hong Kong’s financial central district October 28, 2014. Hong Kong has been roiled by a tenacious, month-long student-led people’s movement demanding full democracy in the former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

But Communist Party leaders in Beijing have insisted on screening candidates for the job first, prompting the popular, and in the most part courteous, dissent.

The student-led protesters now appear to be settling in indefinitely, even though the government is powerless to change the financial hub’s “Basic Law” mini-constitution and go against Beijing rule.

China’s Communist Party said on Tuesday it aims to prevent “external forces” intervening in Hong Kong and Macau, the official Xinhua news agency reported via its microblog.

The ruling party added it supported the chief executive of Hong Kong and his administration.

Neighbouring Macau, a former Portuguese colony, has seen similar protests.

(h/t @BryFitz)

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