More than 10,000 people in Hong Kong marked the New Year with fresh calls for democracy and a leadership change.
[Agnes Chan, HK College Student]:
"Today we march to demand for the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. He did not come to power through universal suffrage. The people did not authorize him, so he does not listen to the people's voice."
Hong Kong is ruled separately from mainland China as a Special Administrative Region. Since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, the Chinese regime has pushed back the timeframe for letting the Hong Kong public elect its leaders. Currently, they are appointed by a small group of people and approved by the Chinese Communist Party.
[Jackie Hung, Protest Organizer]:
"That universal suffrage and democratic development is not the hope and demand for (just) today -- we have been asking for more than 20 years. But the first of the day in the year is also a good timing for us to tell the government again that we urge for universal suffrage."
The delay of popular election has fuelled anti-China protests in Hong Kong. Critics of new Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying say he is acting as a puppet of the Communist regime.
Protestors also voiced anger over a national education course that many saw as propaganda from the Mainland.
[Agnes Chan, Student]:
"We can also see Leung Chun-ying has many political tasks, he is an underground Communist Party member, and we see signs of Hong Kong becoming more 'red'. Therefore we hope to protect our next generation, to guard the future of Hong Kong. So we demand for Leung's resignation and fight for a democratic system."
Calls to remove Leung grew in November after he admitted to building illegal structures on his property before he was elected last July. He first tried to cover up the additions, calling into question his integrity.
Police say the protest amassed some 17 thousand protesters but the organizers estimate it was closer to 130,000. The government issued a statement today saying it would listen to the opinions of the people.
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