Protesters took to Hong Kong's streets yesterday after hearing of Xu's fate. Members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China marched from the Hongkong Bank Building, in Central, to the Central Government Offices. As the demonstrators delivered a petition to the office of Tung Chee-hwa, Alliance chairman Szeto Wah called on authorities in Beijing to release the activist. 'The mainland wants to use these people as bargaining chips,' said Mr Szeto. 'They keep convicting these people and, when there are talks coming up, they will release one prisoner.' The alliance said it hoped the Chief Executive would act as a bridge of communication in passing its statement to the central Government. Legislator and Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming described the jailing of Xu and other dissidents as 'a step in the wrong direction'. Mr Lee said: 'I don't know why they find it is necessary to impose such a severe penalty for what a lot of people in the world consider their right.' With China becoming a signatory to the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in October, Mr Lee said he had expected it to result in Chinese people enjoying more freedom, not less.