Hong Kong Protesters March for Democracy

New Year rally presses claims for a directly elected leader and greater autonomy from Beijing

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Tyrone Siu / Reuters

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters march in the streets to demand universal suffrage and urge Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to step down in Hong Kong on Jan. 1, 2014

Thousands took to the streets of Hong Kong on Wednesday as residents of the Chinese Special Administrative Region continue to demand fuller democracy and greater autonomy from Beijing.

China gained control of the former British colony in 1997, and later set the goal of direct elections for the city’s leader by 2017 at the earliest. Many Hong Kongers now treat this provisional date as a firm promise, and consider any possible deferral as backtracking by Beijing.

Also at issue is the vetting of candidates. Protesters at the annual New Year’s Day democracy rally held banners and shouted slogans to demand that candidates be nominated without Beijing’s approval.