China

HK students escalate pro-democracy protest

University students from across Hong Kong attend the start of a week-long boycott of classes at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shatin, Hong Kong, China, 22 September 2014 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Students occupied the Chinese University of Hong Kong's campus on Monday as part of their boycott

More than 1,000 Hong Kong students have taken their pro-democracy march to government offices, as part of a week-long boycott of classes.

The march came a day after student leaders said 13,000 students had taken part in a rally at a university campus.

They are protesting against a decision by Beijing to rule out fully democratic elections in Hong Kong in 2017.

Brief scuffles broke out as protesters rushed towards Chief Executive CY Leung as he left the government offices.

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Media captionBBC News explains the background to the Occupy Central row in 60 seconds

The Hong Kong Federation of Students claimed Mr Leung had ignored students and "simply walked past them".

RTHK quoted Mr Leung's spokesman who said he intended to accept a petition letter from the students but left when the situation became chaotic.

Mr Leung told reporters that he was willing to listen to protesters' requests, but stressed that Beijing had already made its decision and Hong Kong would still have a "one man one vote" electoral system.

The students' boycott is seen as a prelude to a larger demonstration planned for 1 October, organised by pro-democracy group Occupy Central, which has vowed to block the financial district.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Students scuffled with police on Tuesday morning as they rushed towards chief executive CY Leung
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Activists last gathered at Tamar Park on 31 August, when Beijing gave its final decision on the elections
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The university campus is several kilometres north of Hong Kong's city centre

In August, Beijing decided that candidates for the 2017 chief executive election would first have to be approved by a nominating committee. Activists have argued that this does not amount to true democracy.

State news outlet Global Times published an editorial on Tuesday saying activists were "misguided in their anger" and that Hong Kong had more important issues to deal with, such as growing inequality.

It said continued protests "benefits nobody, whether it be the activists, the public or relations with the mainland, and will accomplish nothing good for Hong Kong".

On Monday China's President Xi Jinping stressed that the "basic principle and policy" of "one country, two systems" towards Hong Kong "has not changed and will not change", according to Xinhua.

Hong Kong democracy timeline

  • 1984: Britain and China sign an agreement where Hong Kong is guaranteed "a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs" for 50 years following the handover in 1997.
  • 2004: China rules that its approval must be sought for changes to Hong Kong's election laws.
  • 2008: China says it will consider allowing direct elections by 2017.
  • June-July 2014: Pro-democracy activists hold an unofficial referendum on political reform and a large rally. This is followed by protests by pro-Beijing activists.
  • 31 August 2014: China says it will allow direct elections in 2017, but voters will only be able to choose from a list of pre-approved candidates. Activists stage protests.
  • 22 September 2014: Student groups launch a week-long boycott of classes in protest.

Q&A: Hong Kong's democracy controversy

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