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China jails Hong Kong opposition leaders; police order cancellation of planned protest

Nearly 1,000 pro-democracy protesters have been arrested so far

Matthew Hatcher/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Chinese-controlled government of Hong Kong has jailed leaders of the former British territory's pro-democracy movement and ordered the cancellation of a protest that had been planned for this weekend, according to CBS News.

What are these protests about?

In 1997, the United Kingdom returned Hong Kong to mainland China. The region had been given to the U.K. on a 99-year lease in 1898. China promised the people of Hong Kong that it would utilize a "one country, two systems" policy in order to allow residents of Hong Kong to continue to enjoy freedoms that were forbidden to most Chinese citizens.

However, in the ensuing years China has slowly chipped away at some of these liberties.

Earlier this year, the Chinese-controlled local government of Hong Kong had tried to pass a bill that would have allowed people who were arrested in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China for trial. Critics worried that the Chinese government could use this to make opposition leaders disappear.

The Chinese government has so far refused to appease the protesters by scrapping the bill.

What's happening now?

Within the last day, authorities in Hong Kong have arrested three leaders of the protests: Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, and Andy Chan.

"My arrest shows the government answers our request for a dialogue with batons, tear gas, rubber bullets and mass arrest. Our freedom of assembly and other fundamental rights are eroded," Wong, one of the leaders of the pro-democracy activist group Demosisto, wrote on Twitter.

According to CBS News, Chan, 28, helped to found a pro-independence political party in China that has been banned by the government.

Police in Hong Kong also said on Thursday that they would not allow a planned protest to take place on Saturday. The protest was then canceled by its organizers.

According to CNN, so far 900 pro-democracy protesters have been arrested in Hong Kong.

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