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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 April, 2004, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Thousands rally for HK democracy
Marcher in Hong Kong
Many marchers carried effigies mocking leader Tung Chee-hwa
Thousands of people have marched in Hong Kong to protest at China tightening its grip in the former British colony.

On Tuesday, China passed a law allowing it to veto the process by which Hong Kong elects its leader and legislature.

Protesters called for Hong Kong's Beijing-backed leader, Tung Chee-hwa, to step down.

Last July, street protests by 500,000 Hong Kong citizens led China to shelve a controversial anti-subversion law.

Hoping to repeat that effect, democracy activists in Hong Kong have been calling upon the public to march to save democracy in the province.

China should go along with the historical trend and give us more democracy
Gary Fan, office worker

Organisers say 20,000 people took part.

The BBC's Louisa Lim says the mood of the protest was largely good-natured, though many in the crowd were angry and frustrated.

She says it will become clear whether the marchers have the backing of the majority of Hong Kong citizens when the province votes in September's legislative elections.

Surveys currently show about 60% of Hong Kong people want direct elections for their leaders.

Many alienated

The march was the first big protest since Beijing's decision to claim the power of veto over political reform in Hong Kong.

Many of the marchers wore black ribbons on their arms, signifying the "death" of democracy.

Hong Kong's leader, Tung Chee-hwa
Hong Kong's chief executive Tung Chee-hwa backs Beijing's stand

"The one country, two systems is a complete wash-out," said one marcher, referring to the slogan with which China had promised to govern Hong Kong.

The marchers plan to hand in a petition asking for more public consultation about democracy.

Chinese officials say the door is still open for democratic change, if it is recommended in a report to be submitted by Hong Kong's leader Tung Chee-hwa.

But some analysts say that many Hong Kong people feel politically alienated by the developments of the past few days.

Pro-democracy legislators have condemned Beijing's ruling as undermining the high degree of autonomy promised to Hong Kong when it was handed back to Chinese rule almost seven years ago.




SEE ALSO:
Press at odds over Hong Kong move
07 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
China veto angers HK democrats
06 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
HK's debate on full democracy
06 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Tung Chee-hwa: Beijing's favoured son
07 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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