Answer by Joseph Wang:
Both. But they are related.
"Democracy" means different things to different people, and before all this started I was worried because I didn't understand what the protesters meant by "democracy."
"Democracy" in the context of this protest means an end to the control of the Hong Kong government by the tycoons and land barons and a more inclusive governmental system that actually listens to people other than tycoons and land barons.
It's not only the high cost of living, but also wage stagnation, and the lack of upwardly mobile jobs for college students. All of this is linked in to a political system that listens only to tycoons.
One thing that I didn't quite understand until this weekend was that the anger was not directed at the final outcome of the electoral mechanism but rather than the process involved. The actual electoral mechanism to me seems pretty reasonable.
The problem is that if Beijing said at the very beginning says "Hong Kong, you must do this" people will get rather annoyed, but they'll get used to it. The problem was that the HK Government went through this highly elaborate and very public process in which he claimed to seek opinions, and then basically ignored the opinions it received.
So after making a big show over "listening to the people" the government just ignored most of the opinions and did what Beijing told it to do. Fine. But if that's the situation then why ask for people's opinions in the first place?
One thing that I'm starting to grasp is that people don't really *care* if the CE is elected by a bunch of tycoons. If a whole bunch of tycoons get into a room and elect the CE, then so be it. The thing that people can't stand is if the tycoons make the decision and that you make this pretense that the "people" actually did it.
If you aren't listening to the people, don't pretend to listen to the people. If you claim that you are listening to the people, then you better take into account what they say.