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Hong Kong march against democracy

Hong Kong, Aug. 17: Tens of thousands of people marched under a blistering sun in Hong Kong today to express their opposition to a pro-democracy movement that has threatened to bring Asia’s biggest financial centre to a standstill if the government does not open up the nomination process for electing the city’s top leader.

Protesters, many waving Chinese flags, streamed into Victoria Park in mid-afternoon before a planned march, and the contrast with a rally held July 1 by pro-democracy organisers was stark. Many, if not most of the participants in today’s rally, were born in mainland China. Most were organised into groups corresponding to Chinese hometowns, schools or, in some cases, employers, easily identifiable with their matching T-shirts and hats. Middle-aged and elderly people dominated Sunday’s march, while young people dominated last month’s march.

In speech, too, they often employed the political lexicon of China’s ruling Communist Party. Typical was Kitty Lai, an investment adviser wearing an orange T-shirt and a baseball cap emblazoned with the logo of the Hong Kong Federation of Fujian Associations, a group that represents people who hail from the coastal province across from Taiwan. She said shutting down the Central business district would cause chaos.

“We want everything to be stable,” Lai, 50, said, in Mandarin Chinese. “We want everybody to live harmoniously.”

Organisers of the July 1 rally estimated that more than 500,000 took part in that march, which ended with hundreds being arrested, including some lawmakers, after they staged an overnight sit-in protest in the Central district.

Occupy Central leaders have vowed to bring Central to a standstill with a sit-in protest should the national legislature and the city government insist on a plan for nominating the chief executive that bars candidates unacceptable to Beijing.

 
 
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