Hong Kong students on strike in democracy battle

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Hong Kong students on strike in democracy battle
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 22: Students attend the rally at Chinese University on September 22, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of students from more than 20 tertiary institutions start a week-long boycott of classes in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform in Hong Kong. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 22: Students post papers on the wall during the rally at Chinese University on September 22, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of students from more than 20 tertiary institutions start a week-long boycott of classes in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform in Hong Kong. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 22: Students attend the rally at Chinese University on September 22, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of students from more than 20 tertiary institutions start a week-long boycott of classes in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform in Hong Kong. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 22: Students attend the rally at Chinese University on September 22, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of students from more than 20 tertiary institutions start a week-long boycott of classes in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform in Hong Kong. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 22: Students attend the rally at Chinese University on September 22, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of students from more than 20 tertiary institutions start a week-long boycott of classes in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform in Hong Kong. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 22: A student carry a banner during the rally at Chinese University on September 22, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of students from more than 20 tertiary institutions start a week-long boycott of classes in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform in Hong Kong. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 22: Students attend the rally at Chinese University on September 22, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of students from more than 20 tertiary institutions start a week-long boycott of classes in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform in Hong Kong. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 22: Students attend the rally at Chinese University on September 22, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of students from more than 20 tertiary institutions start a week-long boycott of classes in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform in Hong Kong. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 22: Students attend the rally at Chinese University on September 22, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of students from more than 20 tertiary institutions start a week-long boycott of classes in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform in Hong Kong. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 22: Students attend the rally at Chinese University on September 22, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of students from more than 20 tertiary institutions start a week-long boycott of classes in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform in Hong Kong. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
Students gather during a strike at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on September 22, 2014. Thousands of Hong Kong students on September 22 began a week-long boycott of classes, kicking off what democracy activists say will be a wider campaign of civil disobedience against Beijing's refusal to grant the city full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Students gather during a strike at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on September 22, 2014. Thousands of Hong Kong students on September 22 began a week-long boycott of classes, kicking off what democracy activists say will be a wider campaign of civil disobedience against Beijing's refusal to grant the city full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Students gather during a strike at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on September 22, 2014. Thousands of Hong Kong students on September 22 began a week-long boycott of classes, kicking off what democracy activists say will be a wider campaign of civil disobedience against Beijing's refusal to grant the city full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
Students gather and sing freedom songs during a strike at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on September 22, 2014. Thousands of Hong Kong students on September 22 began a week-long boycott of classes, kicking off what democracy activists say will be a wider campaign of civil disobedience against Beijing's refusal to grant the city full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
A student reads a banner calling for strike at Chinese University of Hong Kong on September 22, 2014. Thousands of Hong Kong students on September 22 began a week-long boycott of classes, kicking off what democracy activists say will be a wider campaign of civil disobedience against Beijing's refusal to grant the city full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 22: A man posts a paper on the wall during the rally at Chinese University on September 22, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of students from more than 20 tertiary institutions start a week-long boycott of classes in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform in Hong Kong. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
An activist calls for a strike at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on September 22, 2014. Thousands of Hong Kong students on September 22 began a week-long boycott of classes, kicking off what democracy activists say will be a wider campaign of civil disobedience against Beijing's refusal to grant the city full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / XAUME OLLEROS (Photo credit should read XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 19: Students of The University of Hong Kong gather at its Sun Yat-sen Place at campus on September 19, 2014 in Hong Kong. Students from over 20 tertiary institutions and universities will kick start the strike next Monday. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special committee, ruling out open nominations. Opposition to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 19: Students of The University of Hong Kong gather in front of a banner with Chinese characters that read ''Regain our future'' at its Sun Yat-sen Place at campus on September 19, 2014 in Hong Kong. Students from over 20 tertiary institutions and universities will kick start the strike next Monday. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special committee, ruling out open nominations. Opposition to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 19: Alex Chow, the leader of the HK student federation. speaks on stage during students of The University of Hong Kong gather at its Sun Yat-sen Place at campus on September 19, 2014 in Hong Kong. Students from over 20 tertiary institutions and universities will kick start the strike next Monday. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special committee, ruling out open nominations. Opposition to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 19: Students of The University of Hong Kong gather at its Sun Yat-sen Place at campus on September 19, 2014 in Hong Kong. Students from over 20 tertiary institutions and universities will kick start the strike next Monday. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special committee, ruling out open nominations. Opposition to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 19: Students of The University of Hong Kong gather in front of a banner with Chinese characters that read ''Strike to show our ideals'' at its Sun Yat-sen Place at campus on September 19, 2014 in Hong Kong. Students from over 20 tertiary institutions and universities will kick start the strike next Monday. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special committee, ruling out open nominations. Opposition to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 19: Students of The University of Hong Kong gather in front of a banner with Chinese characters that read''Strike to show our ideals'' at its Sun Yat-sen Place at campus on September 19, 2014 in Hong Kong. Students from over 20 tertiary institutions and universities will kick start the strike next Monday. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special committee, ruling out open nominations. Opposition to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 19: Students of The University of Hong Kong gather at its Sun Yat-sen Place at campus on September 19, 2014 in Hong Kong. Students from over 20 tertiary institutions and universities will kick start the strike next Monday. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special committee, ruling out open nominations. Opposition to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 07: Hong Kong Federation of Students Union, a Hong Kong student organisation, announces its planned strike by university students on September 7, 2014 in Hong Kong. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special committee, ruling out open nominations. Opposition to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 07: Hong Kong Federation of Students Union, a Hong Kong student organisation, announces its planned strike by university students on September 7, 2014 in Hong Kong. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special committee, ruling out open nominations. Opposition to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 07: Hong Kong Federation of Students Union, a Hong Kong student organisation, announces its planned strike by university students on September 7, 2014 in Hong Kong. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special committee, ruling out open nominations. Opposition to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 07: Hong Kong Federation of Students Union, a Hong Kong student organisation, announces its planned strike by university students on September 7, 2014 in Hong Kong. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special committee, ruling out open nominations. Opposition to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 07: Members of student group Scholarism, a Hong Kong student organisation, announces its planned strike by secondary students on September 7, 2014 in Hong Kong. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special committee, ruling out open nominations. Opposition to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 07: Members of student group Scholarism, a Hong Kong student organisation, announces its planned strike by secondary students on September 7, 2014 in Hong Kong. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special committee, ruling out open nominations. Opposition to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
A replica of the 'Goddess of Democracy' statue is seen on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, next to which students met to discuss a possible student strike in Hong Kong on September 4, 2014. A group of Hong Kong students on September 4 proposed plans to hold a week-long strike later in the month in response to Beijing's refusal to grant the semi-autonomous city full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
Tommy Cheung, president of the Chinese University of Hong Kong student union, talks to the media ahead of a meeting to discuss a possible student strike in Hong Kong on September 4, 2014. A group of Hong Kong students on September 4 proposed plans to hold a week-long strike later in the month in response to Beijing's refusal to grant the semi-autonomous city full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
Students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong meet to discuss a possible student strike in Hong Kong on September 4, 2014. A group of Hong Kong students on September 4 proposed plans to hold a week-long strike later in the month in response to Beijing's refusal to grant the semi-autonomous city full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
A student of the Chinese University of Hong Kong types on his mobile phone at a meeting to discuss a possible student strike in Hong Kong on September 4, 2014. A group of Hong Kong students on September 4 proposed plans to hold a week-long strike later in the month in response to Beijing's refusal to grant the semi-autonomous city full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
Students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong meet next to a replica of the 'Goddess of Democracy' statue (L) to discuss a possible student strike in Hong Kong on September 4, 2014. A group of Hong Kong students on September 4 proposed plans to hold a week-long strike later in the month in response to Beijing's refusal to grant the semi-autonomous city full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
Students line up for a bus service at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in Hong Kong on September 4, 2014. A group of Hong Kong students on September 4 proposed plans to hold a week-long strike later in the month in response to Beijing's refusal to grant the semi-autonomous city full universal suffrage. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
SHENZHEN, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 02: (CHINA OUT) Students attend the entrance ceremony of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen on September 2, 2014 in Shenzhen, Guangdong province of China. The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, which is the only university established by Hong Kong in Chinese mainland, held an entrance ceremony on Tuesday. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
HONG KONG - AUGUST 31: Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism members speak during the protest at Tamar Park outside of the Hong Kong Government Building on August 31, 2014 in Hong Kong, China. The National People's Congress Standing Committee announced the framework for the 2017 chief executive election. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - AUGUST 31: Hong Kong Federation of Students Chairperson Yong Kang Alex Chow crys as he gives a speech during the protest at Tamar Park outside of the Hong Kong Government Building on August 31, 2014 in Hong Kong, China. The National People's Congress Standing Committee announced the framework for the 2017 chief executive election. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
Student activists (C) address pro-democracy rally attendees next to the Hong Kong government complex on August 31, 2014. China on August 31 announced rules giving it control over who can stand in Hong Kong's next leadership election, triggering tears and fury in the city where democracy activists vowed to stage a mass sit-in. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - AUGUST 31: Representatives from Occupy Central movement, Pan Democrats, and Hong Kong Federation of Students watch a TV broadcast in which Li Fei, Vice-general secretary of the National People's Congress Standing Committee announced the framework for the 2017 Hong Kong elections, at legislative council meeting room on August 31, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special commitee, ruling out open nominations. Opposers to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - AUGUST 31: Representatives from Occupy Central movement, Pan Democrats, and Hong Kong Federation of Students watch a TV broadcast in which Li Fei, Vice-general secretary of the National People's Congress Standing Committee announced the framework for the 2017 Hong Kong elections, at legislative council meeting room on August 31, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. The National People's Congress Standing Committee have endorsed a framework for political reform in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017 Chief Executive election, in which 3 candidates will be selected by a special commitee, ruling out open nominations. Opposers to the plans, including pro-democracy group Occupy Central, argue that the system will not meet international standards and deprives people of a genuine choice of candidates. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
Students gather for a rally at the Chinese University of Hong Kong campus in Hong Kong, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. Thousands of Hong Kong students boycotted classes Monday to protest Beijing’s decision to restrict electoral reforms in a weeklong strike marking the latest phase in the battle for democracy in the southern Chinese city.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
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HONG KONG (AP) - Thousands of Hong Kong college and university students boycotted classes Monday to protest Beijing's decision to restrict electoral reforms, the start of a weeklong strike marking the latest phase in the battle for democracy in the southern Chinese city.

The strike comes as dozens of the city's tycoons and business leaders visit Beijing to meet with China's communist leaders, who are seeking to bolster support among Hong Kong's pro-establishment billionaire elites for the central government's policies on the semiautonomous city.

Student organizers are dismayed over Beijing's decision in August to rule out open nominations for candidates under proposed guidelines for the first-ever elections to choose Hong Kong's top leader, promised for 2017.

The National People's Congress, China's legislature, insists candidates be vetted by an elite committee similar to the body of mostly pro-Beijing elites that has until now selected the city's leaders.

The battle over democracy in Hong Kong has led to an increasingly tense and divided city, with activists threatening to stage a mass "occupation" of the Asian financial hub's central business district as early as Oct. 1 as part of a civil disobedience campaign to press their demands.

When China took control of the former British colony in 1997, it agreed to a mini-constitution that guarantees Hong Kong can keep civil liberties unseen on the mainland, while also promising that the leader can eventually be chosen through "universal suffrage." But Beijing's insistence that candidates be screened for patriotism to China has stoked fears among democracy groups that Hong Kong will never get genuine democracy.

"The student strike will mark the turning point of the democratic movement," Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, told the crowd rallying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong's suburban campus. "We will not have illusions in the government anymore, but we'll have faith in ourselves. We are willing to pay the price for democracy."

Students plan to gather daily for the rest of the week in a downtown park next to government headquarters.

"Preselected candidates by a controlled nominating committee can only represent vested interests, but not the general public," Chow said. He urged Hong Kong's government to respond to demands for public nominations and to reform the legislature.

"If we hear nothing from them, the students, the people will definitely upgrade the movement to another level," Chow said.

About 380 academics and other school staff have signed a petition supporting the students, saying they should not "stand alone."

"At the minimum, they (the strikers) can provide a wakeup call to tens of thousands of university and secondary school students in Hong Kong," said Dixon Sing, a political science professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who helped start the signature campaign. The organizers are "trying to inspire many other fellow classmates to be aware of and be devoted to the democratic movement," he said.

In Beijing, more than 60 Hong Kong tycoons, including Li Ka-shing, Asia's richest person, were meeting with President Xi Jinping to discuss democratic reform. They urged democracy activists to avoid a confrontation, saying Beijing will not change its mind.

"Hong Kong is a financial center, and if the main financial district is messed up, then Hong Kong will be ruined," billionaire property developer Lee Shau-kee told reporters after arriving in Beijing on Sunday night.

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