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Hong Kong goes to polls amid unease over Beijing protests

Hong Kong went to the polls to elect a new legislature on Sunday, following major protests that have underlined growing anger and unease over perceived meddling from Beijing. Over 3.4 million voters registered voters will elect 40 members of Hong Kong's 70-seat Legislative Council, known as the 'LegCo'. Pro-democracy candidates and campaigners say the vote is crucial to the former British colony's future, possibly influencing whether universal suffrage is brought in for the 2017 election for chief executive and the 2020 parliamentary elections. Sunday's ballot came on the heels of 10-days of mass protests over highly contentious plans by Beijing to introduce compulsory lessons in "moral and national education" to Hong Kong's classrooms. This week, tens of thousands of protesters encircled Hong Kong's government headquarters to denounce the plans for "patriotic" education. Opponents claimed the classes were an attempt to "brainwash" students by airbrushing events such as the Tiananmen Square crackdown from history and instead promoting the benefits of one-party rule. Polls opened in Hong Kong at 7.30am local time and closed at 10.30pm. Results are expected on Monday. On Saturday, apparently fearful that ongoing protests might damage the prospects of pro-Beijing candidates, Hong Kong's chief executive, CY Leung, backed away from plans to make the classes compulsory by 2016. "The schools are given the authority to decide when and how they would like to introduce the moral and national education," Mr Leung, who came to power in March and is backed by Beijing, announced at a press conference. Professor Willy Lam, a China expert from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the U-turn was an attempt to shore up support for "establishment candidates". "It was a strategic retreat bearing in mind the elections today because if he were to hang on to the original decision I think the pro-Beijing establishment candidates might suffer." Attempts to alter Hong Kong's curriculu

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Hong Kong goes to polls amid unease over Beijing protests

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