Hong Kong’s government on Monday cautiously prepared for Chinese National Day celebrations on October 1, following a weekend of violent clashes between police and protesters that saw the deployment of tear gas and dozens of arrests.
Due to the months-long unrest that has engulfed the city, the government has decided to tone down its annual celebration, moving the traditional flag-raising ceremony indoors and cancelling the signature fireworks.
The 2019 National Day marks seven decades since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Meanwhile, a “black balloon flash mob” in Tsim Sha Tsui, which would involve popping balloons in protest against the flag-raising ceremony, was quickly quelled by the police.
Police officers found balloons in a private car and two trucks at around 4 am and arrested five people.
Scuffles broke out near the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre between League of Social Democrat activists and a group of people criticising their slogans. The police used pepper spray while trying to separate the two groups.
This marks the second major anniversary that has been forced to move indoors after the government held the flag-raising ceremony for the handover anniversary at the Golden Bauhinia Square on July 1.
Hong Kong authorities rejected an appeal for a major pro-democracy protest scheduled for October 1.
The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), which has organized several major rallies in recent months, said an appeals board upheld the police ban on Tuesday’s march in the city centre.