In Hong Kong, July 1 is a public holiday known as the HKSAR Establishment Day. As well as marking the beginning of the HKSAR, the public holiday also marks the return of sovereignty over the region from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic China in 1997; the original transfer ceded sovereignty to the United Kingdom through a series of treaties signed in the 1800s. As a result, this is also the day when the city takes to the streets for the annual July 1 protest.
Though garnering significant attendance, this year’s HKSAR Establishment Day protest saw a lower turnout than usual. The Civil Human Rights Front – the protest’s organisers – estimated a crowd of 50,000, while police counted 9,800. These figures were down on previous numbers of 60,000 and 14,500 respectively. Nevertheless, participants who attended came out in full force to protest against one-party dictatorship, with recent concerns about housing and reduced freedoms adding more fuel to the march’s fire. Half the participants chose to join the march mid-way between its Causeway Bay start point and Admiralty end point.
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