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Hong Kong police patrol against protests on China holiday

Hong Kong police were out in force on China’s National Day holiday Thursday, detaining and searching people on the streets of a popular shopping district after calls were made online urging people to take part in anti-government protests.

National Day, celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China, has become a day of protest in Hong Kong by those who oppose Beijing's increasing control in the semi-autonomous city.

Small groups of protesters gathered in the popular Causeway Bay shopping district, although they were outnumbered by police. Social-distancing restrictions due to the coronavirus meant large-scale protests don't have authorization.

Pedestrians pass police standing guard during China's National Day in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. A popular shopping district in Causeway Bay saw a heavy police presence the Oct. 1 National Day holiday despite low protester turnout. (AP PhotoKin Cheung)

In the afternoon, police cordoned off certain areas of the district and searched several people on the streets. A group of protesters chanted slogans including “Disband the police,” and police unfurled their blue warning banner that urged protesters to disperse, otherwise force may be used.

Protests against the Hong Kong and mainland Chinese governments swelled last year, and Beijing sought to clamp down on anti-government sentiment in the city with a national security law that took effect June 30.

The law outlaws subversive, secessionist, and terrorist activity in Hong Kong, as well as collusion with foreign powers to interfere in the city's internal affairs. The U.S. and Britain accuse China of infringing on the city’s freedoms, and the U.S. has imposed sanctions on government officials in Hong Kong and China over the law.

A family is diverted by police as a precaution during China's National Day in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. The popular shopping district of Causeway Bay saw a heavy police presence on the Oct. 1, China National Day holiday despite a low protester turnout. (AP PhotoKin Cheung)

At a National Day reception, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said “stability has been restored to society while national security has been safeguarded” under the new law.

Lam also accused some foreign governments of holding “double standards” and leveling unjustified accusations against the authorities who implement the new law.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, center, and former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, left, and Lam's husband Lam Siu-por, right, attend the flag raising ceremony at the Golden Bauhinia Square to mark the 71st anniversary of Chinese National Day in Hong Kong Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. (AP PhotoVincent Yu)

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, center, and former Chief Executives Tung Chee-hwa, fourth from right, and Leung Chun-ying, fifth from right, attend the flag raising ceremony at the Golden Bauhinia Square to mark the 71st anniversary of Chinese National Day in Hong Kong Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Others are, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, right, and Lam's husband Lam Siu-por. (AP PhotoVincent Yu)

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, fourth from left in front, and former Chief Executives Tung Chee-hwa, third from left, and Leung Chun-ying, second from left, attend the flag raising ceremony at the Golden Bauhinia Square to mark the 71st anniversary of Chinese National day in Hong Kong Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Others are, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, sixth from left, and Lam's husband Lam Siu-por at fifth from left. (AP PhotoVincent Yu)

Memebers of honor guards march as Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, red in front, and former Chief Executives Tung Chee-hwa, at her left, attend the flag raising ceremony at the Golden Bauhinia Square to mark the 71st anniversary of Chinese National Day in Hong Kong Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. (AP PhotoVincent Yu)

Pro-democracy activists are surrounded by police officers as they march toward a flag raising ceremony in Hong Kong, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 to mark the China's National Day. The banner reads " Stop One Party Ruling." (AP PhotoKin Cheung)

Police officers spray fire extinguisher as pro-democracy activists burn a letter near a flag raising ceremony in Hong Kong, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 to mark the China's National Day. (AP PhotoKin Cheung)

A pedestrian's credentials are checked by police in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, during China's National Day on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. The popular shopping district of Causeway Bay saw a heavy police presence on the Oct. 1 National Day holiday despite low protester turnout. (AP PhotoKin Cheung)

Protesters raise five fingers, signifying their "Five demands and not one less" as they march in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, during China's National Day, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. A popular shopping district in Causeway Bay saw a heavy police presence the Oct. 1 National Day holiday despite the low protester turnout. (AP PhotoKin Cheung)

Pro-democracy activists holding picture of detained Chinese human rights activists, protest outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 on the occasion of China's National Day. They demanded to release the 12 Hong Kong activists detained at sea by Chinese authorities. (AP PhotoKin Cheung)