The scale of the Hong Kong protests can most accurately be captured from above.

Videos and photographs of the millions of people marching through the streets of the former British colony on Sunday show the massive swell of people packed in between skyscrapers.

There's no way to truly tell how many people took part in the rally, but estimates suggest as many as two million of the city's seven million people turned out.

Tens of thousands of protesters carry posters and banners march through the streets as they continue to protest an extradition bill in Hong Kong. Photo / AP
Tens of thousands of protesters carry posters and banners march through the streets as they continue to protest an extradition bill in Hong Kong. Photo / AP

CNN journalist James Griffiths, who has been closely following the action from the ground, described the scale of the protests as "insane".


But mainland China, the Communist Government and state-sponsored broadcasters are either ignoring the protests completely or pursuing a narrative that appears far removed from reality.

The People's Daily, which is seen as the unofficial mouthpiece of the Chinese Government, published a short opinion piece playing down the protests but has otherwise been silent.

It's leading story today is about President Xi Jinping's visit to Kyrgystan. Its second leading story is about fluctuating currency.

The People's Daily said the controversial extradition bill at the centre of the protests is "supported by mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong".

"The general public is looking forward to blocking legal loopholes to prevent Hong Kong becoming a haven for sinners," the publication reported.

China's state broadcaster CCTV avoided the subject in its main news bulletins throughout the day on Sunday.

China has blamed the protests on what it says is a small group of organisers who are "colluding" with Western governments.

The People's Daily echoed the oft-repeated government line that "it resolutely opposes the intervention of external forces in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs".


It also supported the option chosen by pro-Beijing Lam to put the bill on the backburner, saying it was an opportunity to "further listen to opinions".

Searches on China's Twitter-like microblogging site Weibo for "Hong Kong protests" only yielded official Chinese foreign ministry statements.

The ministry has called such rallies "riots" or "behaviour that undermines Hong Kong's peace and stability".

Protesters say the extradition bill threatens the longstanding "one country, two systems" agreement between Hong Kong and China.

They are angry about a proposed amendment to The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill that locals believe could claw back Hong Kong's political and legal autonomy.

Hong Kong has long enjoyed civil liberties like protesting, freedom of speech and dissident movements that are heavily restricted in Xi Jinping's China.

However, the controversial bill would see anyone on Hong Kong soil able to be extradited to mainland China.

The bill, which would afford China extradition powers that currently do not exist, was suspended this week after the enormous backlash but a protest that followed the suspension suggests Hong Kong will accept nothing less than the bill being scrapped entirely.

Protesters marched for hours on Sunday, a week after as many as 1 million people took the streets.

They have already demanded Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam step down. Instead, she issued an apology.

"The Chief Executive acknowledges that her government work has been unsatisfactory, leading to confusion and conflict in society, and leading to disappointment and heartbreak," she said in a statement.

"The Chief Executive would like to apologise to the city's citizens and is open to receiving criticism (on how to) further improve and provide better services for the broader society."

The protests have been soured by the death of a 35-year-old protester who fell from scaffolding while trying to hang a banner.

He had unfurled a banner on scaffolding attached to an upscale mall, but fell when rescuers tried to haul him in, police said.

As a show of unity, protesters wore white ribbons and carried white flags while others placed flowers, incense and cigarettes at a makeshift shrine.

A mosaic of A4 sheets bearing handwritten messages of hope, defiance and solidarity in Chinese and English covered the paving stones outside the legislature building. A young man with a megaphone called on those returning home to contribute, while others handed out paper and pens and taped the offerings to the ground.

On Monday at daybreak, police announced that they wanted to clear the streets of protesters in the morning.

Soon after, police lined up several officers deep and faced off against several hundred demonstrators on a street in central Hong Kong. The police asked for co-operation in clearing the road.

Protesters replied with chants, some kneeling in front of the officers. In a stark contrast to protests last week, demonstrators did not cover their faces or try to hide their identities.

Some speculated the earlier protests were subdued because participants worried they would face possible retribution from authorities.

Instead, marchers both young and old attended, some even pushing strollers through the large crowds.

Protesters sing after a march against an extradition bill outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong. Photo / AP
Protesters sing after a march against an extradition bill outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong. Photo / AP

At the march's end, hundreds sat wearily around the government headquarters. Some were singing, some listening to speeches. Some were just resting.

"There isn't really a plan. It's like playing a chess game," one man told the Associated Press.