Hong Kong Busts 500 After Huge Democracy Rally
Organizers say 510K marched to demand free vote
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2014 1:22 AM CDT
Protesters fill a street during an annual protest in downtown Hong Kong yesterday.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
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(Newser) – More than 500 people were arrested late last night at a sit-in that followed Hong Kong's biggest pro-democracy march in more than a decade. Police say around 100,000 people joined yesterday's rally marking the day Britain handed the territory back to China in 1997, but organizers say more than 500,000 marched to demand free elections for Hong Kong's chief executive, shouting slogans like "Change comes from the people," reports the New York Times. Days before the rally, some 800,000 people took part in an unofficial referendum on bringing in full democracy.

Beijing—which dismissed the vote as an "illegal farce"—has pledged to allow Hong Kong residents to choose their leader in 2017, but only from a list of candidates approved by a Communist Party-friendly committee. Protesters were futher angered by a recent Beijing "white paper" stating that the central government has "complete jurisdiction" over the territory and its autonomy is subject to Beijing's approval. "After seeing the white paper's content, we should be worried," one protester tells the AP. Beijing is "trying to tell the Hong Kong people that ... Hong Kong is just one of their regions," he says. "They're trying to tell us they have absolute power to rule us."