An assistance guides voters at a polling station for an unofficial referendum on democratic reform in Hong Kong Sunday

HONG KONG (AP) — An informal referendum aimed at bolstering support for greater democracy in Hong Kong has drawn nearly 800,000 votes and Beijing’s ire.

The vote, which wrapped up Sunday, is part of a campaign by activists in the southern Chinese city to ratchet up the pressure on authorities for democratic reform that could ultimately lead to a mass protest paralyzing the city’s financial district.

Hong Kong passed from British to Chinese control in 1997 with the promise that it could retain a high degree of control over its own affairs under the principle of “one country, two systems.”

Beijing has pledged to allow Hong Kongers to elect their next leader but balked at letting them nominate their own candidates, saying they need to be vetted by a Beijing-friendly committee.

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