Tens of thousands to march for democracy in Hong Kong

US has welcomed a step forward in Hong Kong`s march toward full democracy.

Hong Kong: Tens of thousands of people were expected to hit Hong Kong`s sweltering streets on Thursday for a pro-democracy rally on the 13th anniversary of the former British colony`s return to China.

Organisers were expecting around 50,000 protesters to turn out for the July 01 march, down from 70,000 last year, underscoring fears that a deep split in the city`s opposition camp has deterred potential supporters.

The march has become an annual opportunity for campaigners to show the strength of opposition to Beijing and the local authorities.

But last week`s passage of a package of political reforms that promise an incremental boost to democracy -- but not one person, one vote -- has divided the opposition camp.

Some politicians warned that this year`s protest could be chaotic -- with campaigners directing their anger not only at the government, but also the Democratic Party, which recently changed course and voted in favour of the Beijing-backed reform package.

The US consulate in Hong Kong late Wednesday issued a statement saying it welcomed what it called a "significant step forward" in Hong Kong`s march toward full democracy.

Bureau Report