Demonstrators, who have been gathering in several parts of Hong Kong since last week, demanding democratic elections, are acting peacefully, with no attempts made so far to break through cordons to the palace hosting exhibitions and conferences.
Addressing the ceremony, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, focused on the advantages of the "one country, two systems" formula agreed when Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain in 1997. The principle guarantees it autonomy and freedom of speech.
At the same time, the Hong Kong leader has called to adopt the procedure proposed by Beijing for elections in 2017.
China’s authorities have for the first time allowed the citizens of Hong Kong to have the right to elect the chief executive on condition that there are no more than three candidates and they need first to be approved by the nominating committee controlled by Beijing.
The opposition maintains that these restrictions do not allow pro-democracy candidates to participate in the elections. Meanwhile, Chun-ying argued that this is a step towards democracy. “Of course, it is much better when the chief executive is elected by 5 million registered voters with the right to go to polls, rather than this is done by 1,200 electors,” he said.
Thousands of students continue blocking the streets and key crossroads simultaneously in several areas, disrupting the traffic in Hong Kong, the world's top financial center. The zone of protests now covers more than 3,500 km (2,174 miles) of roads.
The movement has been already labeled "the Umbrella Revolution" for the umbrellas that many people are holding to protect themselves from pepper spray and tear gas as well as to cope with oppressive heat.