City in crisis

With pro-democracy activists taking over the streets following China's refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage, Hong Kong is facing its worst political crisis since its 1997 handover.

Why is the city so divided?

The current crisis revolves around perceived political interference by Beijing and a debate over how the city's next leader will be chosen under planned reforms.

What are the differences?

The current chief executive, Mr Leung Chun Ying, and his predecessors were elected by a pro-Beijing committee.

China has promised to let all Hong Kong citizens elect their next leader in 2017. But only two or three candidates who have been vetted by a nominating committee will be allowed to stand.

Pro-democracy activists call the arrangement "fake democracy".

Who are the pro-democracy activists?

A mixture of lawmakers, academics, students and ordinary citizens. The younger generation is generally more active in pro-democracy circles than their parents.

Earlier this year, the protesters organised an unofficial referendum in which almost 800,000 citizens voted overwhelmingly in favour of greater democratic freedoms than Beijing is granting, AFP reported.

Is everyone behind Occupy Central?

Far from it. In August, a network of pro-Beijing groups organised an anti-Occupy protest march that drew tens of thousands - although there were allegations that some protesters were paid or bussed in from the mainland.

What will happen next?

Analysts say the likelihood of Beijing backing down is very slim. Much will depend on whether protesters can keep their momentum going and retain public support.