AP

"Disobey and grasp your destiny" is the rallying cry as protesters settle in for a week of action to demand voting rights in their semi-autonomous nation.

As many as 13,000 college students in Hong Kong have reportedly started to stage a week-long sit-in to protest against China's failure to reform its election policies. ABC reported:

Wearing yellow ribbons, students from more than 20 universities and colleges packed into the grounds of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where they were greeted by banners that said: "The boycott must happen. Disobey and grasp your destiny."

Pro-democracy demonstrations have been taking place in Hong Kong as an accelerated clip as of late. Hundreds of thousands of protesters turned up in July for an annual march where they sang Les Misérables.

The specific issue at the heart of the protests is what's perceived as backtracking on a promise by Chinese authorities to allow semi-autonomous Hong Kong to choose its leaders in open elections. Earlier this month, Chinese put forth a proposal that would force the candidates to be vetted by a committee before being voted upon by Hong Kongers.

The 1997 handover of Hong Kong from the British to the Chinese was supposed to bring with it the promise of "universal suffrage" and, as Lily Kuo wrote, make Hong Kong "an incubator for political reforms and elections that could be later tried on the mainland."

Instead, Chinese authorities now fear that the spirit of these protests will bring instability to mainland China instead.

This post originally appeared on The Wire, an Atlantic partner site.

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