An assistance guides voters at a polling station for an unofficial referendum on democratic reform in Hong Kong Sunday, June 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
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More than 765,000 votes had been cast by early afternoon Sunday, the final day of an unofficial referendum on democratic reforms in Hong Kong, part of a civil campaign that has been branded illegal by local and mainland Chinese authorities.Hong Kong, a free-wheeling, capitalist hub of more than seven million people, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with wide-ranging autonomy under a "one country, two systems" formula, along with an undated promise of universal suffrage.While Beijing says Hong Kong can go ahead with a vote in 2017 for the city's top leader, Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, specifies that only a nominating committee can pick leadership candidates.Many recent rallies in Hong Kong have seen scuffles break out between pro and anti-Beijing groups, including the 25th anniversary of the June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy protests in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square, an event that had always been peaceful in Hong Kong.
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