Thousands returned to occupy Hong Kong’s Central district Friday after the government backed out of talks and threatened to break up the demonstrations.

One student, quoted by Reuters, said, “I’ve just set up camp here under the bridge and I will come down to occupy whenever I can. … I may have to go back to school during the day, but I will make every effort to come back.”

Protesters want the freedom to select their own candidates rather than choosing from a slate handpicked by Beijing. They’re also asking for Hong Kong’s administrator, Leung Chun-ying, to resign.

Hong Kong is considered a “special administrative region” of the People’s Republic of China, meaning it has different rules than the rest of the country. Actually, China maintains numerous jurisdictions with varying rules. But Hong Kong is special. Formerly occupied by the British, China regained control of the island and its mainland territory in 1997 and planned a smooth, deliberate transition over 50 years. The protesters maintain that Beijing had, from the beginning, promised to maintain democratic principles. Actually, British rule wasn’t so democratic, either. Nonetheless, the people of the fragrant island want more.

The location of the protests is key. Hong Kong has a diverse population, though mostly Chinese, but Central is where all the bankers and Europeans work and play. It’s where you would go to see white faces and expensive cars, and its pristine streets are littered with towering skyscrapers. Central is very much the Wall Street (with the rest of Manhattan dropped on top) of Hong Kong, and this movement, although indigenous, seems to resemble Occupy in that regard.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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