Dressed in black, over 1,000 Hong Kong lawyers silently marched in the city Friday to protest what they say is China's attempt to infringe on the territory's judicial independence.
Pro-Beijing protesters interrupted the march, although there were no reports of violence or arrests. The rally ended with lawyers observing three minutes of silence outside the Court of Final Appeal.
Earlier this month, China released a policy document outlining its position on Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” principle.
Hong Kong’s Bar Association opposes Beijing’s position that judges be patriotic as part of the requirement for appointment. The association says labeling judges as administrators would portray Hong Kong’s courts as subservient to the mainland’s government.
Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, a former bar association chairwoman, told VOA that Beijing's position is worrisome.
"Most people support the Basic Law of Hong Kong, one country, two systems," she said. "But you put out a white paper, but without a high degree of autonomy, and there is absolute governance."
Chinese human rights lawyers Teng Biao said the people of Hong Kong must remain committed to protecting their freedoms.
“Beijing is trying to use a mainland Chinese concept to form the rule of law of Hong Kong," he said. "We absolutely can not give an inch on this. If we give an inch, our individual freedoms, basic human rights and other rights will not be guaranteed.”
In response to the march, the Hong Kong government said “there is no intention to interfere with the rule of law and judicial independence of Hong Kong.”
The release of the policy document was seen by many as a response to a 10-day unofficial referendum by pro-democracy supporters that allows Hong Kong citizens to choose among three electoral reform options.
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Mandarin service.