Demonstrators at a June vigil in Hong Kong (CC/ Voice of America)
HONG KONG , July 1 (UPI) -- A pro-democracy march in Hong Kong Tuesday drew over one million demonstrators, organizers said.
Despite rain, marchers filled a street from Victoria Park to downtown Hong Kong, protesting perceived restrictions on autonomy by the Beijing government. Although the city was promised a measure of independence and self-government when it rejoined China in 1997, a "white paper" released in June by the Chinese cabinet -- calling for broader authority over Hong Kong by the central government -- has upset many Hong Kong residents.
The march came several days after an informal Internet poll ended, calling for direct election of Hong Kong's chief executive. Over 800,000 people voted. In early June, 180,000 participated in a memorial vigil honoring the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, organizers said.
Demonstrators marched through the city, demanding full democracy and carrying banners reading: "Say No to Communist China."
Although the march was peaceful, as have been previous demonstrations, protesters and Beijing-appointed officials seem to be on a collision course for confrontation. Protesters at Tuesday's march were young and less eager for Beijing's control of their government, while local officials follow President Xi Jinping's recent policy of crackdowns on a varied list of offenses, including human rights advocacy.
"A showdown is getting more and more inevitable by the day, and some degree of violence is imminent," said Lau Nai-keung, a Hong Kong politician closely allied with Beijing. "If worst comes to worst, the P.L.A. (People's Liberation Army, the Chinese military force) will come out of its barracks."