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Hong Kong Residents Demand 'Full Democracy' from China

Thousands of Hong Kong residents have joined an annual New Year's Day march to demand China allow them to elect their own leaders.

Police estimated over 6,000 people set off on the march Wednesday from Victoria Park, but organizers said over 10,000 participated.

The semi-autonomous Chinese city is set to hold elections in 2017, but many fear Beijing will go back on its promise to allow a free vote.

Peter Tsui, one of the marchers, expressed frustration over the mainland's interference in the ex-British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

"(I'm protesting) because every chief executive we've had is not good, because they're appointed (by Beijing). If we get to choose our own executive, it'll be better."

Currently, Hong Hong chief executives are selected to five-year terms by a 1,200-member committee dominated by pro-China appointees.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, whose government has been plagued by corruption scandals, is scheduled to finish his term in 2017.

Some of the protesters fear Beijing will influence election rules to block pro-democracy candidates from running to replace him.

If a fair electoral system is not guaranteed, some activists say they plan to take over the streets of Hong Kong's business district later this year.

The city has seen regular protests, amid public anger about high property prices and a growing influx of mainland Chinese using the city's resources.

But Hong Kong does enjoy a high degree of autonomy and its citizens are able to exercise political rights not allowed on the mainland.

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