Hong Kong protests: Traffic flows back into business district after police remove barriers

Police officers take control of Queensway Road as they remove barricades from a protest site in Admiralty near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Oct 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Police officers take control of Queensway Road as they remove barricades from a protest site in Admiralty near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Oct 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The Hong Kong police reopened one of the city's main thoroughfares to traffic on Tuesday after clearing barricades erected by democracy protesters who have occupied streets in the heart of the Chinese-ruled city for two weeks.

By noon on Tuesday, Queensway Road was reopened, allowing traffic, including school and tour buses, to flow straight through to the Central business district that is home to global companies such as HSBC Holdings and Standard Chartered.

Outside the Lippo Centre in Admiralty district, a driver of one of the city's ubiquitous red taxis shouted angrily at the protesters that they were making it impossible for him to make a living.

The crowd responded by singing Happy Birthday, which has become the movement's signature way of diffusing tense situations, including when minor clashes have broken out with those opposed to the demonstrators.

Hundreds of Hong Kong police used sledgehammers and chainsaws to dismantle pro-democracy barricades near government offices and the city's financial centre on Tuesday, a day after clashes broke out as anti-protest groups tried to reclaim roads.

Taxi drivers had threatened to remove the barricades by Wednesday if protesters had not done so by then.

The protesters, mostly students, are demanding full democracy for the former British colony and have called on the city's embattled leader, Leung Chun-ying, to step down after Beijing in August ruled out free elections for Hong Kong's next leader in 2017.