Hong Kong elects new lawmakers as city faces decades of Xi Jinping rule

Pro-democracy campaigners Joshua Wong, left, Agnes Chow, third from left, and Nathan Law campaign for by-election candidate Au Nok-hin, center, for the Legislative Council by-elections in Hong Kong on March 11, 2018.

Hong Kong (CNN)Hong Kongers headed to the polls Sunday to replace four lawmakers kicked out of the city's legislature in a vote seen as a chance for the city's beleaguered democracy movement to regain lost ground.

Fifteen candidates are vying for the seats that were left vacant after pro-democracy lawmakers were removed from office over protests they staged during their swearing-in ceremonies that took aim at Beijing.
It comes as China holds its National People's Congress, the country's rubber-stamp parliament, which on Sunday waved through a change to the constitution to remove presidential term limits.
That move -- first announced in late February -- clears the way for President Xi Jinping to rule China indefinitely, sparking alarm in Hong Kong, where his time in office has been characterized by tighter Chinese control over the city and shrinking political freedoms.
    Those fears were underscored at the start of the meeting on March 5, when a key report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang omitted the usual reference to the people of Hong Kong ruling themselves under the "one country, two systems" formula, which has governed the former British territory since its return to China in 1997.
    The arrangement allows Hong Kong a degree of electoral freedom not enjoyed on the mainland, although Beijing ruled out universal suffrage for the city in 2014, sparking a huge street protest that became known as the Umbrella Movement.
    Results are due early on Monday.