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HONG KONG RESIDENTS REVIVE PRO-DEMOCRACY PROTESTS

By Ann Scott Tyson / January 8, 1990



HONG KONG

Hong Kong's embattled democracy movement has drawn fresh strength from the defeat of dictatorial rulers in Eastern Europe. More than 10,000 Hong Kong residents demanded the overthrow of China's hard-line Communist regime last week in the territory's biggest pro-democracy protests since the Beijing massacre last June.

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Carrying placards bearing slogans such as ``We love China, not communism,'' the protesters marched to China's official headquarters in the British colony for a three-hour New Year's Day rally.

``Hong Kong people are inspired. They see a future for democracy,'' said Szeto Wah, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China, which organized the protest.

``They see that in the 1990s a democratic movement can definitely advance,'' said Mr. Szeto, a unionist and leading liberal legislator, in a telephone interview. China will regain sovereignty over the British colony in 1997.

The progress toward multiparty democracy in Eastern Europe, especially Romania, was a major inspiration drawing Hong Kong residents to the streets, Szeto said.

Protesters called for the ousting of senior leader Deng Xiaoping, Premier Li Peng, and President Yang Shangkun. Some carried signs with photographs of Mr. Deng saying ``Ceausescu is waiting for you,'' while others showed the late Romanian leader calling Deng to ``quickly come see me.''

``China's leaders have resorted to violent treachery against the people, so the people want to topple them,'' Szeto said.

The demonstrations marked a revival of the democratic fervor that saw a million of Hong Kong's 5.7 million residents pour into the streets in protest against China's autocrats last June.

Beijing calls Szeto's democratic alliance, a conglomeration of 210 Hong Kong groups, ``subversive'' and drafted legislation that would ban it from Hong Kong after 1997. Until then, Szeto said, ``All they can do is curse us.''