The city's traditional New Year Eve's bumper fireworks display was cancelled due to safety concerns, but a light show and smaller-scale fireworks took place instead.
In related news, the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), which has organized several massive marches since June, including a recent one on December 8, said on Sunday that the police have issued a letter of no objection to the front for a march on New Year's Day.
But with Beijing and city leaders refusing further concessions, rallies and clashes reignited over the Christmas period.
A wildfire in Birdwood, South Australia state (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9/AP) The fireworks have been cancelled in many Australian towns (AP) Australia's wildfires have taken a large toll on the country's landscape and its wildlife (Oakbank Balhannah CFS/AP/PA) A volunteer from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service works to extinguish.
The financial hub has been battered by more than six months of protests that included huge peaceful marches attended by millions, as well as violent confrontations in which police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets, and protesters responded with flurries of petrol bombs. In the popular shopping district Tsim Sha Tsui, thousands of protesters gathered at the harborfront as the city readied to count down to the new year.
A protester waves a flag with the words "Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times" in Hong Kong on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019.
Protests planned on New Year's Eve include a lunchtime rally in Hong Kong's Central business district with people urged to wear masks and "Don't forget 2019 - Persist in 2020" according to social media posts.
"Hong Kong's prosperity and stability is the wish of Hong Kong compatriots and the expectation for the people of the motherland", Xi said in the televised address.
Nearby, tens of Buddhists were seen chanting scriptures in the hope that Hongkongers can have peace, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
"Let's start 2020 with a new resolution, to restore order and harmony in society. So we begin again, together", she said. "To allow Hong Kong to move forward steadily, we must handle the problems at hand and acknowledge the shortcomings in our system", Lam said.
The CHRF will announce details of the march on Monday.
The huge bushfires have destroyed more than 4 million hectares (10 million acres), with new blazes sparked into life nearly daily by extremely hot and windy conditions in bushland left tinder-dry after a three-year drought.
-With assistance from Dandan Li.