Hong Kong "umbrella revolution" seeks reforms

Hong Kong protests intensify 01:51

BEIJING - Protesters have filled the streets of Hong Kong, the former British Colony, now controlled by China. Tens of thousands are demanding the right to choose their own leadership -- without interference from China. Police have attacked with tear gas, but that seems to have backfired.

Pro-democracy protests keep growing, with demonstrators holding their ground against the heavy-handed tactics of riot police. They're jamming the streets of Hong Kong's financial hub, forcing some schools and offices to close.

Demonstrators are pushing for the direct election of Hong Kong's chief executive in 2017. They want to be able to pick who is on the ballot. But China's communist government has refused. Any candidate must be approved by Beijing.

Pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong defy ca... 01:26

"The world is watching this, and is seeing this and I hope they can give pressure to China and then something will change," says one demonstrator.

Since Hong Kong's handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997, it has been governed by and unusual agreement called "One Country, Two Systems." It allows Hong Kong some independence from China, but demonstrators are chafing now at those limits."

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Protestors and student demonstrators hold up their cellphones in a display of solidarity during a protest outside the headquarters of Legislative Council in Hong Kong on September 29, 2014. XAUME OLLEROS/AFP/Getty Images

Many are young people who've used umbrellas to protect themselves from pepper spray, prompting a nickname -- the "Umbrella Revolution."

With the unprecedented size of the demonstrations, many are reminded of another uprising in China 25 years ago: Tiananmen Square.

That's not appreciated by Beijing, where the protests have received little attention in state-run press and have been blocked on China's social media.