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Instagram Blocked In China Amid #OccupyCentral Movement, The Incredible Pictures They Can't See

30/09/2014 17:20 BST | Updated 30/09/2014 17:59 BST

As protesters continue to peacefully voice their discontent in a highly unusual show of mass civil disobedience in Hong Kong, China has hit back.

Stunning images of thousands calling for free elections and other democratic changes will never reach China as the country's censors and opponents of the protests clamp down in a bid to stop news of the unrest spreading online.

However, an alternate narrative has seeped into the mainland through cellphone instant messaging services. Users have posted video clips and photos from Hong Kong streets, as well as articles on the unrest sent as photo images — not text — so they can circumvent censorship that involves searching text messages for key phrases.

Discussions have been muted on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, where Beijing has tightened censorship and intimidated microbloggers from posting politically sensitive materials following a clampdown last year. China also has blocked access to the photo-sharing service Instagram.

While Chinese state media has provided little coverage of the protests beyond noting that an illegal gathering spun out of control and was being curtailed by police, here are some of the stunning images China doesn't want you to see.

The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have handed China's Communist leadership a thorny political dilemma.

Beijing cannot crack down too harshly on the semi-autonomous territory where a freewheeling media ensures global visibility, but it is determined to end the demonstrations quickly so as not to embolden dissidents, separatists and anti-government protesters elsewhere in China.

But the demonstrators, who are demanding a greater say in choosing the financial centre's leader, or chief executive, have defied attempts over the weekend by riot police to end their sit-ins with blasts of tear gas and pepper spray, and on Monday fanned out to more neighbourhoods of Hong Kong in a tense standoff.

As Hong Kong's "umbrella revolution" enters its fifth day, thousands of pro-democracy protesters are continuing to peacefully show China they will not be deterred by demands to disperse, having spent the night sleeping on the streets in an unprecedented show of civil disobedience.

The protests reflect disillusionment with mainland Chinese rule among Hong Kongers, especially the younger generation, who feel Beijing has failed to keep promises of greater democracy for the territory. Those promises were written into Hong Kong's charter as part of the "one country, two systems" arrangement that Britain negotiated with Beijing when the former colony was returned to China in 1997.