Storm clouds loomed over Hong Kong as tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets, giving way to a downpour as the day wore on that deterred many from joining the throngs of dissent.
Visiting President Xi Jinping warned that Hong Kong should give up any bid to "challenge the central government", however, and crack down on moves towards "Hong Kong independence".
Warned that security forces would be working overtime to stop crowds and banners from appearing on July 1, the 20th anniversary of Britain's handover of Hong Kong to China, the protesters chose to turn the tables by making this official object disappear - if only briefly.
Beyond democracy, many protesters said they were also protesting about Hong Kong's many social problems, from staggering income inequality to corruption in government. Prominent democracy activist Joshua Wong was handcuffed and another activist, Avery Ng, accused officers of roughing him up in the back of a police vehicle.
Hong Kong has been simmering for the past few years with massive demonstrations, including prolonged "occupy protests" against China screening candidates to contest elections.
China has been cracking down on dissidents in Hong Kong to preserve the stability it desires.
But his words can not be taken at face value in light of the fact that his administration has trampled on the freedom of Hong Kong residents and their fundamental rights.
Xi praised Hong Kong for its role in China's economic development as he addressed the banquet, which included lawmakers and business figures, and told Hong Kong citizens to believe in themselves and China.
Hong Kong continues to interact positively with the mainland, said Luo.
At midnight on June 30, 1997, after sampling a curry dish and a rum punch at the Regent Hotel, the main Chinese and British authorities attended the act that would forever change the course of Hong Kong.
"Development, an abiding pursuit, is crucial for Hong Kong's survival, and it holds the golden key to resolving various issues", he said.
A Chinese flag remains flying after a British flag was lowered at the midnight handover ceremony in Hong Kong on July 1, 1997AP Photo/Kimimasa MayamaOn July 1, 1997, Hong Jong officially became a part of China again after more than 150 years of British rule. The pro-democracy protesters were released on Friday.
On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the agreement by which Hong Kong was handed over from the United Kingdom to China, was now just an "historical document" with no practical significance.
It has also coincided with the inauguration of new chief executive Carrie Lam, who is seen by detractors as a puppet to Beijing.
The presence of the PLA in the city has always been one of the most sensitive parts of the city's reversion to Chinese rule, but the garrison, thought to number between 8,000 and 10,000, has kept a noticeably low-key presence. People marched with signs criticizing the Chinese president, while others called for the end of the Communist Party of China.
The Mainland Affairs Council (陸委會) also expressed a similar concern, urging the Chinese authorities to realize their promise to allow Hong Kong to rule itself with a high level of autonomy.
Hong Kong is a plural society with "different views and even major differences on some specific issues", he acknowledged.
He was briefed on how the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, through investment in infrastructure, is enhancing its connections within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area as well as with the rest of Mainland, and on the strategy of strengthening Hong Kong as an global and regional logistics hub.