Hong Kong protests: Occupy movement could be the most polite demonstration ever

Protesters have apologised for vandalism and cleaned up. Picture: James Legge

Pro-democracy demonstrators occupying parts of Hong Kong are in the running to be the most polite protesters ever after apologising for an isolated case of vandalism.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in opposition to China's continued control over the city's leadership, demanding the resignation of current leaders and democratic reform.

Despite clashes with police, who have used tear gas and pepper spray as well as charging crowds with batons in attempts to disperse them, the mood appears to have remained remarkably civil.

On Monday morning, Hong Kong resident James Legge spotted an apology note posted on a vandalised police van near the heart of protests in the Admiralty district.

"Sorry, I don't know who did this but we are not anarchists - we want democracy," it read. As protests continue, people have been seen distributing free food and water, as well as cleaning up after themselves in the famously orderly city.

At the main occupation at the city’s Government headquarters, students sorted plastic bottles for recycling even as they wore goggles and plastic sheets to protect against pepper spray.

Thousands of people are camping out in the Admiralty district in continued opposition to the Chinese Government’s refusal to let them select their own candidates for leadership elections in 2017, allowing only Beijing-backed politicians to stand.

The movement, dubbed the Umbrella Revolution because of the widespread use of umbrellas against tear gas and pepper spray, has sparked solidarity protests around the world.

Demonstrations are being run by a group called Occupy Central with Love and Peace, which describes itself as a “non-violent direct action movement that demands a fully democratic government in Hong Kong”.

China has called the protests illegal and endorsed the Hong Kong government's crackdown, taking a hard line against threats to the Communist Party's power.

The unpopular Beijing backed leader of Hong Kong, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, has urged people to leave the protests.

“We don't want Hong Kong to be messy,” he said in a statement broadcast on Monday.

Attempting to dispel rumours of intervention by the Chinese army, he added: “I hope the public will keep calm. Don't be misled by the rumours. Police will strive to maintain social order, including ensuring smooth traffic and ensuring the public safety.”

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