Hong Kong pro-democracy protests draw low turnout

Hong Kong pro-democracy protests draw low turnout
Hong Kong pro-democracy protests draw low turnout
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Students wore facemasks with crosses to protest against China's grip on Hong Kong

An annual pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong saw one of its lowest turnouts in history on Sunday, amid sweltering heat in the administrative region of China.

Protesters were marking the 21st anniversary of the former British colony's return to Chinese rule.

Organisers said 50,000 protested, while police put the figure at 9,800 - the lowest recorded by both camps.

Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement has been weakened in the past year, with prominent activists jailed.

Image copyright AFP

Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997. Under the so-called "one country, two systems" formula, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy but not full democracy.

Massive street demonstrations erupted in 2014 against Beijing. Protesters accused mainland China of encroaching more and more on the region.

Hundreds of police were deployed on Sunday as demonstrators marched through the streets carrying banners. Some carried yellow umbrellas, a symbol of democratic activism.

Image copyright AFP

Pro-democracy activist Lui Yuk-lin burned a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Image copyright AFP

The flames were extinguished by security guards.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Hong Kong police officers clear a street near the Sogo department store in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Some protesters were pictured wearing Pinocchio masks depicting Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is seen by activists as a representative of Beijing's interests.

Image copyright EPA

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, who became famous for his role in the protests in 2014, spoke to supporters at the march.

Image copyright Reuters

In response to the protest, the government said in a statement that "chanting slogans which disrespect" the one country, two systems formula "was not in line with Hong Kong's overall interests and would undermine its development."

Various other causes have become a part of the annual protests, including recycling, environmental issues, and property prices.

Image copyright EPA

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