Hong Kong Rally Against Occupy Central Attracts Thousands

Anti-Occupy Central demonstrators carry a Chinese national flag during a march in Hong Kong, on August 17, 2014. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images

By Jill Mao in Bloomberg News

Tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong marched to protest threats by activist groups to paralyze the city’s financial district if China refuses to allow direct leadership elections, underlining the division in the city.

The Alliance for Peace and Democracy put yesterday’s turnout at 193,000 people, compared with the 88,000 estimate by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme.

The protest highlighted the divide in Hong Kong over how to pick its new leader in 2017, with the political unrest threatening to erode its status as a global financial center. The Chinese government has insisted on having candidates vetted by a nominating committee, which has met with opposition from lawmakers, students and the activist group Occupy Central with Love and Peace.

“Occupy Central will block the traffic and affect my job and business,” Chan Cheung On, 40, a driver for a take-out delivery company, said yesterday at the protest. “Everybody in Hong Kong wants universal suffrage, but some people want to achieve it only through the way they want.”

Occupy Central has threatened to organize a 10,000 strong sit-in at the financial district if election methods fail to meet what it deems as international standards. A rally on July 1 for democracy drew 154,000 to 172,000 people, according to estimates by the University of Hong Kong.

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