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Protesters were tear-gassed and beaten by police today after seizing key roads in Hong Kong to mark the 22nd anniversary of its handover from Britain to China.
Tensions spiked as dawn broke after small groups of mainly young, masked protesters seized three key thoroughfares in the city's financial hub, deploying metal and plastic barriers to block the way.
City - Demonstrations - Weeks - Protesters - Withdrawal
The semi-autonomous city has been shaken by huge demonstrations in the past three weeks, with protesters demanding the withdrawal of a bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.
Riot police with helmets and shields faced off against protesters in the Admiralty and Wanchai districts of the city.
Ceremony - Handover - Police - Protesters - Street
Shortly before a flag-raising ceremony to mark the handover, police swooped on protesters who had blockaded one street, a reporter at the scene said, with at least one female protester seen bleeding from a head wound after the clashes.
The ongoing rallies are the latest manifestation of growing fears that China is stamping down on the city's freedoms and culture with the help of the finance hub's pro-Beijing leaders.
Hong - Kong - Rule - July - Arrangement
Although Hong Kong was returned from British to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, it is still administered separately under an arrangement known as 'one country, two systems'.
The city enjoys rights and liberties unseen on the autocratic mainland, but many residents fear Beijing is already reneging on that deal.
Activists - March - Handover - Anniversary - Freedoms
Pro-democracy activists have organised a march every handover anniversary, calling for greater democratic freedoms - such as the right to elect the city's leader.
They have mustered large crowds in recent years - including a two-month occupation in 2014 - but have failed to win any concessions from Beijing.
Year - Rally - Backdrop - Protests - Weeks
This year's rally comes against the backdrop of unprecedented anti-government protests over the past three weeks that have drawn millions and anger over police using tear gas and rubber bullets to clear...
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