China insisted Sunday on the authorities' right to choose candidates for the leadership of Hong Kong, a move likely to trigger protests from democracy advocates in the former British colony. The National People's Congress Standing Committee decided that the city's next chief executive will be elected by popular vote in 2017, but that candidates must each be backed by "more than half of all the members" of a "broadly representative nominating committee". Activsists for democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese city say the move means Beijing will be able to ensure a sympathetic slate of candidates and exclude opponents, and has pledged to mobilise thousands of protesters to block the financial district in response. "The principle that the Chief Executive has to be a person who loves the country and loves Hong Kong must be upheld," said the text of the decision, released by the official news agency Xinhua.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Under cover of darkness, 40 Filipino peacekeepers made a daring escape after being surrounded and under fire for seven hours by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights, Philippine officials said Sunday, leaving 44 Fijian troops still in the hands of the al-Qaida-linked insurgents.