Mon, Jul 02, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Thousands demand reform in Hong Kong

FIGHTING FOR RIGHTS The 10th anniversary of the territory's return to Chinese rule was marked by a huge protest with marchers demanding universal suffrage


Hong Kongers celebrated a decade of Chinese rule yesterday with a colorful parade, a dazzling display by paratroopers and a mass street protest to call for progress on democratic reform.

Several thousand pro-democracy protesters streamed through the city as they marched to the government's downtown headquarters from Victoria Park, one of the few remaining vestiges of British colonialism since the Chinese took control on July 1, 1997.

Under the handover agreement negotiated by Britain and China in 1984, Hong Kongers are entitled to eventually elect their leader and legislature, although the document is vague on when that is supposed to happen.

Police put the number of protesters at about 20,000. Organizers said 68,000 people had turned out.

Many joined the march as it snaked through residential and business districts, waving banners calling for universal suffrage, cleaner skies and an improvement in social welfare.

"We can all see that there hasn't been any democratic progress in the past 10 years," said Anson Chan (陳方安生), the former No. 2 in the government.

Chan, who has become a key figure in the pro-democracy movement, also called for changes to address Hong Kong's growing rich-poor divide and worsening air pollution.

Earlier in the day, Chinese and Hong Kong leaders praised the territory for bouncing back from a turbulent decade of financial, health and political crises, but warned that the next 10 years would pose equally tough challenges from Asian cities threatening to eclipse it as a global business capital.

"The competition ahead is fierce. We are not only competing with neighboring cities, but with cities around the world," said Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權), who was sworn in yesterday for a second term.

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