Some 6,000 protesters demanding freedom for Hong Kong took to the streets yesterday, piling pressure on the authorities to answer new questions raised about the case of five missing booksellers.
Chanting "Hong Kong has a bottom line" and "We want our freedom", they marched for more than two hours from Causeway Bay to the Chinese Liaison Office.
The city's pan-democratic parties organised the march following last Thursday's revelations by one of the booksellers, Mr Lam Wing Kee, about their abductions and "rehearsed" confessions.
Mr Lam also said his colleague Lee Bo was seized in Hong Kong, in a breach of the "one country, two systems" framework. His claim was refuted by Mr Lee last Friday.
Surrounded by reporters outside his home yesterday, Mr Lee again denied having told Mr Lam how he had "returned to the mainland" though he confirmed they had met. He then told reporters: "Don't get me involved."
The five men ran a publishing firm and a bookshop in Causeway Bay specialising in salacious gossip about China's leaders.
The latest twist to the saga of the booksellers detained in mainland China for "illegal" book trading has further deepened Hong Kongers' distrust of the central government.
"China is reaching out to grab us as it wants more control. If we don't protest and get out of its reach, we will become like China soon," said Mr Sam Wong, 30, who declined to give his occupation.
Mr John Law, 25, who works in a non-profit organisation, said he joined the protest to rally for freedom of speech in Hong Kong.
Yesterday, the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Professor K.C. Chan, assured investors that the Hong Kong government can "absolutely" uphold the rule of law in the city.