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Thousands join anti-Occupy rally in Hong Kong as democracy fight heats up

Published on Aug 17, 2014 5:27 PM
A woman holding a Hong Kong flag shouts at a man holding a Taiwanese flag (not pictured) as she takes part in a pro-government rally in Hong Kong on Sunday, Aug 17, 2014. Tens of thousands gathered in Hong Kong on Sunday to demonstrate against a pro-democracy campaign in the former British colony. -- PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Tens of thousands gathered in sweltering heat in Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against a pro-democracy campaign that has threatened to shut down the city's financial district, exposing a deepening rift over political reforms in the former British colony.

The rise in tit-for-tat street protests between pro-Beijing and pro-democracy groups underscores the challenges China faces in shaping its vision for the political future of Hong Kong.

Backed largely by Beijing-friendly groups, the Alliance for Peace and Democracy says it "desires peace and no violence" and has denounced the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement that has said it will lock down the centre of the city if Beijing does not allow truly democratic elections for a leader in 2017. "We want to show that the march doesn't have to be violent and angry. It can be happy," said Mr Robert Chow, a former Hong Kong radio host and spokesman for the alliance.

The group says it has so far collected close to 1.5 million signatures, including that of Hong Kong leader Leung Chun Ying, saying the "illegal" Occupy campaign would tarnish Hong Kong's reputation and hurt business.

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