Speed Reads

One China, two systems

Hong Kong protesters defy police, expand pro-democracy protest

Hong Kong's Occupy Central protest, seeking local say in the city's candidates for chief executive, got dicey on Sunday, with police trying to disperse the thousands of demonstrators using tear gas and pepper spray. The protesters didn't comply with the government's calls to go home, and the work week started with protesters blocking several main roads in the semi-autonomous financial hub. On Monday, the Hong Kong government canceled fireworks for China's National Day on Wednesday, a tacit acknowledgment that the protesters aren't going away.

The student-led protest is calling for China to reverse a recent decision to let only a small number of pro-Beijing business leaders pick the chief executive candidates for Hong Kong's inaugural election, promised for 2017. After Sunday's violence, Hong Kong pulled back its riot police and urged the protesters to go home. Instead a student protester called back over the group's own PA system that they will stay put until unpopular chief executive Leung Chun-ying steps down. "Do something good for Hong Kong," he shouted. "We want real democracy!"

This is Hong Kong's biggest unrest since Britain handed back control to China in 1997, and one of the biggest pro-democracy protests in China since Tiananmen Square 25 years ago. The protesters are wearing plastic wrap, goggles, and surgical masks to protect themselves from the pepper spray and tear gas, and carrying umbrellas as improvised shields. The umbrellas are the most visible symbol, leading to the nickname the "umbrella revolution." Watch some footage of Sunday's confrontation below. --Peter Weber