( Reuters ) A poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping with his eyes blocked by words " Not my president" is seen as thousands of protesters march along a downtown street during an annual pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong Sunday, July 1, 2018. The previous year saw 60,000 in attendance and so this year marked a decline from previous years. This year they have tried to rally supporters behind a new slogan: "End One-Party Rule; Say No to Hong Kong's Fall".
"This year is a turning point in which (authorities) have used different ways to mobilize their power to suppress the rally", Sammy Ip from the Civil Human Rights Front, one of the rally organizers, told AFP. Instead, both this year and last year, the football pitches were given to a pro-Beijing group celebrating the handover as a positive event, and marchers were made to begin their march at the Victoria Park lawn instead. Little is expected to change with regard to self-rule in the territory in the short-term, but long-term there remain significant concerns about China's attempt to undermine Hong Kong's basic law and the legal freedoms of its citizens. Practitioners from Hong Kong and nearby Asian countries joined the protest to call on the Chinese regime to end the persecution of adherents in mainland China, who have been systematically harassed, arrested, detained, and tortured since July 20, 1999. As every year the estimates of the demonstrators and those of the police do not converge. "But it's not too late for Lam to stand up to Beijing and defend Hong Kong people's rights".
"Chief Executive Lam has repeatedly failed to defend the freedoms of Hong Kong people from heavy-handed Chinese interference", Richardson said. But the core values of Hong Kong people are freedom, democracy are more important.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, right, former Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, center, and former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying attend the flag raising ceremony to mark the 21st anniversary of the Hong Kong handover to China in Hong Kong, Sunday, July 1, 2018.
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Since then the Hong Kong government has taken further steps to restrict fundamental rights guaranteed to citizens by Hong Kong's functional constitution, the Basic Law, and worldwide human rights law. The leader of the territory's government has vowed to uphold the principle of "one country, two systems" that was adopted at the time of the reversion. As such, it was a question as to how severe police actions would be during the protest.
Still, the mood was defiant on Sunday, with one of the most common chants being "Hong Kong people, keep going". Apart from the annual July 1st demonstrations, this could widen to include other events, such as the annual Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration on June 4th. "The problems in Hong Kong have always been serious, but now they're getting worse". There have been many other supportive measures favouring Hong Kong's economy, the latest being the Greater Bay Area development plan.
But thousands of people turned out to protest against Beijing's tightening grip over the city. Time will tell, but it may be that in this regard, Hong Kong is now at a crossroads.