Over the weekend, HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp) board member Laura Cha compared Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters to African slaves in early America, predicting that the demonstrator’s may have to “wait a while” for Communist China to allow them further liberties.
“American slaves were liberated in 1861 but did not get voting rights until 107 years later,” Cha said. “So why can’t Hong Kong wait for a while,” she said added in comments to The Standard newspaper.
Cha is an American-educated lawyer who also serves as a non-official member of the Executive Council of Hong Kong. HSBC states that she is Chairperson of the Preparatory Task Force on the Financial Services Development Council and is also the Non-Executive Deputy Chairman of the company.
A Change.org petition has surfaced, “Denouncing board member Laura Cha recent remarks comparing HK voting rights to those of African-American slaves.” In just two days, the petition garnered over 8,000 signatures.
Cha’s controversial comments come after over a month of protests in Hong Kong; with pro-democracy demonstrators demanding more freedoms and liberties from governing China. Some estimates state that over 100,000 protesters have attended the rallies.
Separately, Hong Kong student protest leaders are reportedly planning on moving their protest into the mainland city of Beijing, which is the capital of China.
From November 10-11, China is hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Chinese President XI Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama are expected to attend. The students are reportedly hoping to utilize the forum’s international appeal in order to spread their pro-democracy message far and wide. It remains unclear if China will allow entry to the Hong Kong students into the mainland, as officials have full authority to choose whether to authorize travel permits.