Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday the Hong Kong people yearn for a return to normality after a year of social unrest sparked by a failed attempt to pass a bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

On the first anniversary of a mass protest that kick-started the territory's anti-government movement, Lam said there is a lesson for all to learn, namely that "Hong Kong cannot bear chaos."

"Hong Kong people want a stable and calm living environment, especially when facing a global economic contraction caused by the epidemic. This should be a common wish for all having experienced the (social unrest) in the past 12 months," she said, speaking in a weekly press briefing.

Pro-democracy supporters gather at a shopping mall during a Lunch With You rally on June 9, 2020 in Hong Kong, China, as the city marks the one-year anniversary since pro-democracy protests erupted following opposition to a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China. (Getty/Kyodo)

About 1,000 people rallied in the business district of Central late Tuesday, responding to online calls for an anniversary protest.

"Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong! Five demands, not one less!" the crowd chanted as they blocked traffic and marched on roads briefly before being chased away by riot police. The police used pepper spray and made several arrests, according to local media.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of people took part in lunchtime protests at shopping malls across the territory, chanting slogans and singing the protest movement's de facto anthem Glory to Hong Kong.

Protests against the now-withdrawn extradition bill morphed into an anti-government movement that lasted for months, until the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic that brought social activities to a halt.

Beijing's decision last month to enact a national security law for Hong Kong in light of the chaos and the Lam administration's inability to legislate one on its own has refueled the movement as more demonstrations are expected with the relaxation of social distancing rules.

The national security law would prohibit separatist, subversive and terrorist activities and foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs. The National People's Congress Standing Committee, China's core legislative body, will hammer out the details likely by end of June.

The decision has drawn condemnation from the United States, which has threatened sanctions and withdrawal of Hong Kong's preferential treatment, and Britain, which has offered to admit millions of Hong Kong people should Beijing move ahead with the legislation.

Both Washington and London have accused Beijing of reneging on its promise of a semiautonomous Hong Kong, made ahead of the return of the former British colony to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

"National security should be very much a core part of that comprehensive and accurate implementation of 'one country, two systems'," Lam said. "There is no deviation or shift in (China's Hong Kong) policy."

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