HONG KONG – Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers took to the streets in protest Monday, demanding their widely disliked Beijing-backed leader resign and pressing for promised democratic reforms so they can choose their own top representative.
The annual protest march has become increasingly popular in recent years, underscoring the growing gulf between Hong Kong and the mainland 16 years after the city ceased to be a British colony and came back under Beijing’s control.
This year the protesters unleashed their anger at the performance of leader Leung Chun-ying, who has been beset by controversy since he took office a year ago. Leung was picked by a committee of mostly pro-Beijing and pro-business elites.
Beijing has pledged to let Hong Kongers pick their leader, known as the chief executive, no earlier than 2017 and the entire legislature by 2020. But residents of the city, now a special administrative region of China, are frustrated that there have been few signs of progress on drawing up an outline and some fear that it may never happen.