Residents took to the streets for Hong Kong’s annual pro-democracy march on July 1, the third officially recognised large-scale street protest in the last month. Organisers estimated that 550,000 people took to the streets, while police said 190,000 were at the march at the “peak”. The Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI) estimated that 260,000 people took part in the protests.
The size of protesting crowds is a contentious issue in Hong Kong. The headcount is often treated as an indicator of popular sentiment, and can itself become a political struggle between protest organisers and government leaders.
Reuters deployed teams to the July 1 march route to count protesters passing through and estimated that about 227,000 people marched through the city’s Admiralty neighborhood before heading to the end of the march or to government headquarters.
The march started at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, just as the major June 9 and 16 marches did. It was scheduled to follow the usual route to government headquarters near Tamar Park, but clashes there during the morning’s flag-raising ceremony meant organisers and police changed the end point to Chater Road, about 400 metres away.
Some protesters from the main march left the main route to join others at the government headquarters. However, the Reuters team was positioned in a location before that split and without nearby detours, so protesters passing from the main march route to the government complex could be observed.