Demonstrators call for Beijing to grant Hong Kong democracy

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The Independent Online

A quarter of a million protesters marched through Hong Kong yesterday to demand full democracy from their rulers in Beijing.

Pro-democracy politicians and some protesters gathered outside the Chinese government's headquarters after the march to call on Hong Kong's leader, Donald Tsang, to specify when the territory will get universal suffrage, promised as an eventual goal under its mini-constitution.

The governments faltering hopes of pushing a political reform package through the legislature are expeceted to be damaged by the high turnout.

Lee Wing-tat, the head of Hong Kong's top opposition party, the Democratic Party, said Mr Tsang should tell Beijing to "rethink the package".

Mr Tsang said he had heard the people's demands and shared their goal but that an immediate timetable for democracy in Hong Kong was "not achievable."

He defended the reform package, which calls for doubling the size of the 800-member committee that picks Hong Kong's leader and expanding the 60-member legislature.