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Since the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China, the semi-autonomous city has operated under a "one country, two systems" formula, allowing a limited democracy. In August, the Chinese government announced plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 elections, virtually assuring only pro-Beijing politicians would be on the ballots. Student groups and pro-democracy supporters have taken to the streets in recent days to protest the limitations and to demand universal suffrage. Tens of thousands of demonstrators have occupied Hong Kong's Central District, bringing parts of the city to a standstill. The protests are one of the largest political challenges to Beijing since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Chinese officials have scolded protesters and warned against any foreign interference.
A protester raises his umbrellas in front of tear gas which was fired by riot police to disperse protesters blocking the main street to the Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, on September 28, 2014.
Protesters wave their mobile phones in the air in the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 29, 2014 in Hong Kong.
Security forces wearing gas masks take positions opposite demonstrators taking part in a pro-democracy protest.
Riot police fire tear gas on student protesters occupying streets surrounding the government headquarters.
A protester throws an umbrella at riot police as fellow demonstrators blocked the main street to the financial Central district.
Riot police fire teargas to disperse protesters in Hong Kong.
Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators gather outside Hong Kong's government headquarters.
A protester raises placards that read "Occupy Central" and "Civil disobedience" in front of riot policemen.
Police stand guard as students carry a defaced cutout of Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying during a protest march to his residence in Hong Kong.
A secondary school student wears a yellow ribbon pinned to her T-shirt during a rally against Beijing's election framework for Hong Kong.
Tens of thousands of protesters block traffic on the main road leading to Hong Kong's Central district on September 28, 2014.
A police car is blocked by protesters after thousands of people block a main road to the central district.
A student pro-democracy protester covers his face in plastic wrap to protect against pepper spray.
Protesters wear masks and goggles to protect themselves from pepper spray while blocking a police car outside the government headquarters.
Riot police launch tear gas into the crowd as thousands of protesters surround the government headquarters.
Protesters walk through tear gas used by riot police.
A student protester is overcome by pepper spray.
Riot police fire pepper spray on student protesters surrounding the government headquarters.
Police pepper spray protesters after thousands of people block a main road.
Students use social media while occupying the streets.