Hong Kong democracy battle escalates as pro-Beijing group holds mass rally against Occupy plan

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Tens of thousands of people have joined a Hong Kong protest march to oppose a planned civil disobedience campaign by pro-democracy activists.

Demonstrators braved wilting heat to take part in Sunday's rally, which was organized by a pro-Beijing group. Many carried banners or shouted slogans saying they were opposed to the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement.

The movement's organizers have sparked political turmoil with their plan to press demands for genuine democracy by shutting down the southern Chinese financial hub's central business district.

Beijing has promised that voters can pick Hong Kong's leader starting in 2017. But it insists candidates be vetted by an elite committee of loyalists, which democracy activists reject.