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One China, two systems

Hong Kong's pro-democracy politicians want to 'occupy' its government

Hong Kong's student protesters have called for Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong's Chief Executive, to resign, and government officials recently canceled a meeting with the Hong Kong Federation of Students. But 27 of Hong Kong's 35 elected legislators actually support the pro-democracy movement, and they're ready for their voices to be heard.

On Friday, Hong Kong police cleared a pro-democracy protest site in Mong Kok, a working-class neighborhood. After the police cleared the protesters, new clashes between protesters and police broke out on Friday. The protesters want a direct election in 2017, rather than having candidates screened by Beijing. And, just like the student protesters, these 27 politicians support universal suffrage and are ready to "occupy" the government, Quartz reports.

Even though the student protests have only recently brought Hong Kong's democracy struggle to the world's attention, these legislators have had democracy on their minds for years. When Beijing announced that Hong Kong citizens couldn't nominate chief executive candidates, lawmakers called Beijing's Hong Kong representative a "shameful" man who was "breaking a promise." And earlier this month, the pro-democracy legislators announced they would push the suffrage agenda by "enacting legislative roadblocks to many city projects," according to Quartz. They have the authority to block spending bills and delay sports stadiums, new roads, and school funding, all in the name of democracy.

But while pro-democracy legislators hold a majority of Hong Kong's elected seats, there are still 35 legislators chosen by "special interest groups" that are often pro-Beijing, Quartz notes. The suffrage supporters are still a minority, and only two of Hong Kong's 18 legislative panels are run by pro-democracy lawmakers. Meanwhile, Leung Chun-Ying tried to smooth things over on Thursday by re-offering talks with students, which he says could happen as early as next week.