People must work hard to make the 'Chinese dream come true,' Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in his National Day address, amid the simmering tensions between the pro-democracy protesters and the administration.
Following the flag-raising ceremony on the national holiday, the day when the situation is expected to worsen with more protesters set to storm in, the Beijing-backed leader said: "Hong Kong and the mainland are closely linked in their development. We must work hand in hand to make the Chinese dream come true."
"It is understandable that different people may have different ideas about a desirable reform package, but it is definitely better to have universal suffrage than not."
Some of the pro-democracy protesters who were present at the flag-raising event reportedly turned their backs when the mainland's banner was raised. Notably, there was also minimum presence of the police force during the ceremony hinting that neither Beijing nor the Hong Kong administration wants to have a face-off with the protesters on the national holiday.
However, the day marks many events, which have the potential to trigger clashes between demonstrators and the police.
With tens of thousands of student protesters and Occupy Central demonstrators taking to the streets in the last few days across the global financial hub, the number of campaigners is expected to touch its peak on the National Day, which marks the founding of communist China in 1949.
According to South China Morning Post, one of the Occupy Central organisers, Chan Kin-man, offered apology to Hongkongers for causing inconvenience and expressed hopes that the citizens will understand the protesters' true intentions.
"We apologise to [these residents]. We know the Occupy movement will bring inconveniences to citizens' lives but we hope people can understand us. We know there will be short-term disruption but we are fighting for long-term harmony in the society," said Chan, one of the three key organisers of the movement.
The protesters demand political reforms in the semi-autonomous city state and seek to do away with China's "one country, two systems" arrangement in Hong Kong.