Pepper spray fired as Chinese leader visits HK

HONG KONG - Defiant protestors targeted China's President Hu Jintao in Hong Kong Sunday as the former British colony swore in a new leader and marked the 15th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule.

"I vow to defend the Hong Kong... Basic Law," said new Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, a millionaire property consultant seen as close to China's communist rulers, as he read out the oath before shaking hands with Hu.

The Basic Law is Hong Kong's mini-constitution, which guarantees the former British colony civil liberties unheard of on the mainland under the "one country, two systems" model set up when it returned to China in 1997.

But Hu's visit and the inauguration came as discontent towards Beijing surges to a new post-handover high, and security has been stifling for the events, with hundreds of police and giant barricades deployed.

Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: AFP, Reuters)