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World: Hong Kong Demonstrators Urge Protection Of Democracy

Hong Kong, 1 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Pro-democracy activists urged Hong Kong's new legislature to protect democratic values as the former British colony formally reverted to Chinese rule last night.

Our correspondent says about 5,000 attended the peaceful rally near Hong Kong's government center as scores of Chinese police looked on.

Some speakers denounced the new provisional, and unelected, legislature that has been set up for Hong Kong by China. The territory's most prominent rights activist, Martin Lee, urged the crowd to speak out for human rights and what he called clean government. He said he was determined to oppose the new provisional legislature.

Chinese officials have vowed to uphold the law and have promised free elections by next May.

Han Dong Fang, a prominent dissident expelled from China, told RFE/RL that he did not expect any immediate changes from the new government. He said he planned to stay in Hong Kong and use legal procedures to defend the rights of Hong Kong's citizens.