Occupy Central With Peace and Love, as the protest is officially known, aims to foment democratic change by paralyzing the heart of this freewheeling financial hub. It was originally slated to begin Wednesday, but an aligned student demonstration Friday gathered such momentum that its leaders brought the launch forward.
Hong Kong has been run under a "one country, two systems" since British colonial rule ended in 1997. Beijing had promised to let residents choose the city's Chief Executive, the tellingly corporate title of the top job in this bastion of free enterprise, by 2017, but now insists that all candidates must first be vetted by a committee perceived as curated by the Chinese Community Party.
Hong Kong's democracy activists see this as a betrayal; Beijing retorts that the Special Administrative Region already enjoys considerable autonomy and lacks patriotism.