Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, when the UK handed it over the China. As part of the British Empire, Hong Kong grew into an international center of commerce and was also relatively democratic.
Accordingly, when it became part of China, the Chinese government allowed the region to remain somewhat autonomous. The only catch was that Beijing would choose Hong Kong's leader, known as the Chief Executive.
However, the Chinese government also promised that Hong Kong would be able to democratically elect its own leader in 2017.
This would essentially allow for full autonomy. Yet, quite recently, China announced that while it would still allow Hong Kong to hold these elections, the candidates would be chosen by the government.
Simply put, the Chinese government would only allow Hong Kong to elect someone from a list of approved individuals. This is not true democracy, and it's precisely why thousands of people have taken to the streets of Hong Kong in protest.
The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have captured the attention of the world. Over the weekend, disturbing images of a massive and brutal police crackdown on the protests began to emerge. The situation is still very tense, with police warning protestors to disperse, but they won't budge.
Hong Kong enjoys more Internet freedoms than the rest of China, which is precisely why social media has played a vital role in these protests. Yet, even if people in mainland China do not have access to the images coming out of Hong Kong, they have been seen by people around the world.
These are some of the most powerful images to come out of Hong Kong thus far:
1. Students have been at the center of the protests from the beginning.
2. No democracy. No school.
3. Old and young protest together.
4. By the end of the week, thousands started taking to the streets.
5. The movement has been dubbed "Occupy Central."
6. Millennials have led the charge.
7. Protestors blocked the route to one of Hong Kong's busiest commercial areas.
8. As more people came out, the police began cracking down.
9. Looks like Ferguson, Missouri.
10. Apparently China hasn't changed very much over the years.
11. Police have also used pepper spray on protestors.
12. And rubber bullets.
13. Protestors have found unique ways to protect themselves.
14. Many protestors have also used umbrellas to protect themselves from tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets.
15. The umbrella has become a symbol of the protests. #UmbrellaRevolution
16. Umbrellas for democracy. This is perhaps the most iconic image of the protests.
17. The protestors have remained undeterred, despite efforts from police.
18. China has tried to hide what's happening from the world.
19. The protestors have adopted #HandsUpDontShoot in solidarity with Ferguson.
20. Police brutality is a global problem.
21. It's beautiful to see people come together like this.
22. At the same time, it's ugly to see people attacked.
23. There's no need for this.
24. In spite of everything, the protestors have set a good example.