Protesters ransack Hong Kong parliament on China handover anniversary

Years of fears

The past 3 weeks of rallies are the sharpest expression of fears over Chinese influence on the territory in decades.

Protesters accuse Beijing of stamping down on the city's freedoms and culture with the help of the finance hub's unelected leaders.

But the increasingly hardline tactics from some protesters have alienated some, with a large counter-rally in support of the police taking place on Sunday, June 30.

Although Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, it is still administered separately under an arrangement known as "one country, two systems."

The city enjoys rights and liberties unseen on the autocratic mainland, but many residents fear Beijing is already reneging on that deal.

Activists have organized a march every handover anniversary, calling for greater democratic freedoms – such as the right to elect the city's leader.

They have mustered large crowds in recent years – including a two-month occupation of parts of the city center in 2014 – but have failed to win any concessions from Beijing.

This year's rally is framed by unprecedented anti-government protests that have drawn millions, with the public angry over police use of tear gas and rubber bullets.

The spark for the current wave of protests was an attempt by chief executive Carrie Lam to pass the Beijing-backed extradition law, which she has now postponed following the public backlash.

But she has resisted calls to permanently shelve the law or step down.

As a result the demonstrations have morphed into a wider movement against her administration and Beijing.

Champagne toasts & flags

Lam – who has kept out of the public eye since her climbdown and has record low approval ratings – attended a flag-raising ceremony early Monday, marking the moment the city returned to Chinese ownership 22 years ago.

Her speech stuck to the conciliatory tone she has used in recent weeks saying she recognized conflict had broken out.

"It has made me fully understand that as a politician, I need to be aware and accurately grasp the feelings of the people."

Police said 13 officers were sent to hospital early on Monday after being doused by an "unknown liquid" from protesters while the government released a statement condemning protesters for using "extreme violence."

But activists have vowed to keep up their civil disobedience campaign.

"Whatever happens we won't lose heart," Jason Chan, a 22-year-old accountant added. "Resistance is not a matter of a day or a week, it is long term." – Rappler.com