A protest outside the China Liaison Office planned by localist groups Hong Kong Indigenous, Youngspiration and Hong Kong National Party was cancelled amid a heavy police presence on Friday.

Members of the public were stopped and searched on the streets in the vicinity of the office in Sai Wan. According to the police, three individuals were arrested on suspicion of carrying offensive weapons: two cutter knives, a pocket knife and a pair of scissors. The three have since been released on bail.

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The protest had originally been scheduled to take place at 7pm Friday, but it was officially cancelled at around 11pm.

In a statement, Hong Kong Indigenous likened the scale of police mobilisation to an “anti-terrorism operation”, and claimed that its plans had been leaked to the police. Baggio Leung, convenor of Youngspiration, also said that police deployment was beyond expectations.

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Meanwhile, several hundred marchers led by the League of Social Democrats and other pro-democracy parties headed for Government House – residence of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying – following the afternoon rally from Victoria Park to Admiralty.

At around 8:30pm, police stopped the unauthorised march from proceeding as they neared the back entrance of Government House. They fired pepper spray, injuring several demonstrators and journalists.

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Demonstrators were cordoned off by several lines of police on Lower Albert Road. They were later allowed to retreat from the area, and ended their protest at Chater Garden in Central, where some attempted to block roads for a short time.

The annual July 1 rally in the afternoon attracted an estimated 110,000 participants, said organisers Civil Human Rights Front. Returned bookseller Lam Wing-kee – who alleged he had been detained in mainland China – did not attend the rally. He cited a “serious threat” to his personal safety, and claimed that he had been followed by unknown individuals over the past few days.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.