National Day celebrations and protests kicked off early on Tuesday, with police on the streets from first thing and some MTR stations already closed over fears of looming chaos across the territory.

Officials gathered for the flag-raising ceremony at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. But just like on July 1, the guests were inside watching a TV feed of the SAR and national flags being raised in Golden Bauhinia Square.

Two Government Flying Service helicopters flew overhead, each with a flag hanging below.

Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung presided over the ceremony inside, with Carrie Lam in Beijing for the military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Cheung addressed the city’s ongoing turmoil, saying the public are shocked and saddened by the strange situation Hong Kong finds itself in, and that violent protesters have disrupted social order, people’s normal lives and the rule of law.

He said the SAR government had shown the greatest sincerity in holding the first community dialogue session with people from different backgrounds last week.

Cheung also praised China’s development and achievements since its reforms and opening up in the late 1970s, saying the country has become an international economic powerhouse.

Shortly before the flag-raising ceremony, a small protest led by Leung Kwok-hung and Avery Ng from the League of Social Democrats got underway in Wan Chai.

The demonstrators held up a banner calling for the end of one party rule on the mainland.

They were confronted by a small group of people singing the national anthem, forcing the police to intervene to separate the two sides.

Officers fired pepper spray during the commotion. They subdued a man wearing a blue t-shirt and took him away to a police vehicle.

On Monday, the police warned that National Day this year is likely to be “very, very dangerous” in Hong Kong, with large-scale protests expected from the afternoon.