HONG KONG—Chinese tourists pouring into Hong Kong this week for a shopping holiday are getting an unexpected lesson in democracy from the city’s tens of thousands of protesters demanding free elections. So far, most of them are unimpressed.

“We’re just here to go shopping,” says a young woman from Guangzhou, standing with a friend outside of a jewelry store on a shopping street in Mongkok, Kowloon that has been turned into one of several protest sites for demonstrators of Hong Kong’s so-called “Umbrella Revolution.” Nearby, an impassioned activist tells a crowd they can’t afford to wait any longer for true democracy—now is the time. Asked her opinion on the protests, the woman, who would only give her surname, Guo, says, “I have no position.”

Mainland Chinese tourists wait outside a Chanel store at Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district October 1, 2014, with part of it being blocked by protesters. A group of mainland Chinese shoppers in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district on Oct. 1.

Some student demonstrators and pro-democracy public figures in Hong Kong have said that the larger aim of the movement, currently…

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