Hong Kong marchers call for Leung to resign
Thousands of people in Hong Kong marked the first day of 2013 with a march calling for the resignation of the city’s Beijing-backed chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, who took power in July.
It was a warm winter’s day in Hong Kong and demonstrators packed the streets. Some wore black with colourful banners and wearing long-nosed Pinocchio masks, chanting “Liar” and “Leung Chun-ying step down”.
The demonstrations stretched for several kilometres towards government headquarters.
Hong Kong is generally an open and liberal business hub and, since it reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, there have been many demonstrations against encroaching mainland Chinese influence. The territory however has remained stable.
Hong Kong people are concerned about rising housing prices and Mr Leung has promised to make housing more affordable for ordinary people since he took office in the semi-autonomous city in July.
He was elected by a 1,200-strong committee which is dominated by the pro-Beijing business community.
Demonstrators are angry about Mr Leung amid revelations that he built illegal structures at his house on The Peak, especially after he drove his electoral opponent Henry Tang out of the election race over similar transgressions in his basement.
Mr Leung, a quantity surveyor, said his administration would “humbly” listen to the protesters views.
While the focus of protests in China is often local, the broader issue is often demands for full democracy for the former British colony, which is now a special autonomous region of China.
Mr Leung was picked by a 1,193-member committee of mostly pro-Beijing elites in July.
As so often during demonstrations in Hong Kong, the reported attendance figures were massively diverse. Police say 17,000 people gathered at the start of the march, while organisers say 130,000 took part. Something in the middle would be about right.