An incredible viral shot reportedly showing thousands of protesters packing out the streets of Hong Kong is causing a stir — as it's been revealed the photo has been heavily doctored.

The image, which has been shared and liked tens of thousands of times on social media in support of the protests over a controversial extradition bill, has been cropped and mirrored — to multiply the size of the crowd and make it look perfectly symmetrical.

As it has been shared throughout the social media world, it has also become mislabelled.

The image was taken and edited over a week before Sunday's protest involving around two million people.


It has been shared by several influential figures in human rights groups, including Nathan Law, founding chairman of the pro-democracy group, Demosisto.

However, if you trace the image back to its original author, Deacon Lui, it's clear it has been heavily edited using Photoshop.

Mr Lui shared the image on his Instagram page on June 10 with the caption, "whatever it takes. … #noextraditiontochina (photo is cropped and reflected)."

He told CNN he took the original shot, which shows a sea of protesters on Hennessey Road, on June 9 from a building "opposite Hysan mall and beside Sogo".

"I was just trying to share the beauty of Hong Kong to everyone," Mr Lui said, noting the post's caption clearly states it's edited. "People should have acknowledged that as I stated."

The response on Twitter was blunt. "It's fake," one user said. Another said: "Whoever did the mirror image here needs Photoshop taken away from them."

The largest and angriest protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory in years aren't over yet.

Overnight, a Hong Kong student group demanded the city scrap a politically charged extradition bill and agree to investigate police tactics against protesters before a Thursday deadline or face further street demonstrations.

Meanwhile, the Civil Human Rights Front, which organised massive marches on the past two Sundays, called for another protest on July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Since last Sunday's march on the government headquarters by an estimated two million people, the number of protesters in the area has dropped to just a few dozen.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has apologised for her handling of the extradition bill, which could be used to send suspects to mainland China for trial.

She agreed to suspend debate but has stopped short of scrapping the legislation, which critics say threatens the territory's judicial independence.

"We are not asking (Lam) to come out and apologise. We are asking for real action," Joey Siu from the City University Students Union said at a Wednesday news conference.

The group is part of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, which represents student unions at several universities. It has demanded the Government scrap the extradition legislation, investigate police tactics at a protest last Wednesday, cease calling the incident a riot and release those arrested and drop charges against them.

Those terms have emerged as a bottom line for the suspension of protests. Other groups are also calling for Ms Lam to resign for pressing ahead with the extradition legislation and mishandling the response to the protests. Ms Lam has refused to step down.

The student group gave the Government until 5pm (local time) today to meet the demands otherwise protests would resume.

Opponents of the extradition bill, who also include legal and business groups, say it puts critics of China's ruling Communist Party at risk of torture and unfair trials in the mainland and further chips away at the "one country, two systems" framework under which Hong Kong has been governed since 1997.

That guaranteed the territory the right to retain its own legal, economic and political system for 50 years, but the Communist Party under Chinese President Xi Jinping has been pushing evermore aggressively to quiet independent voices in Hong Kong.

Beijing has suppressed all reporting on the protests in mainland media and accused foreign forces of stirring up disturbances in Hong Kong.

At a daily briefing on Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China was willing to communicate over the issues with foreign politicians.

In this Sunday, June 16, 2019, photo, tens of thousands of protesters march on the main road near the Legislative Council to protest against the unpopular extradition bill in Hong Kong. Photo / AP
In this Sunday, June 16, 2019, photo, tens of thousands of protesters march on the main road near the Legislative Council to protest against the unpopular extradition bill in Hong Kong. Photo / AP

However, he added, "If anyone tries to interfere in China's internal affairs with preconceived bias and even malicious political motive, our attitude is very determined — that is, we firmly oppose it."

Meanwhile, opposition politicians on Wednesday grilled the city's security secretary over allegations of police brutality.

A motion of no-confidence over Ms Lam's handling of the legislation was expected but was likely to be rejected or boycotted by pro-government legislators, most of whom did not attend the questioning session.

The opposition politicians wore black with white ribbons pinned to their lapels. They put white chrysanthemums, another symbol of mourning, on their desks and observed a few moments of silence for a protester who died in a fall last weekend.

The debate, aired online in both Chinese and English, was a reminder of the divide between Hong Kong, where officials are held publicly accountable and dissent is expected, and the Communist-ruled mainland, where such open criticism is not tolerated.

Security secretary John Lee rejected suggestions he should resign to take responsibility for police using aggressive tactics, including beatings with steel batons and heavy use of tear gas.

Some politicians questioned the criticism, saying the police were concerned about their own safety when faced with hostile protesters, some of whom hurled bricks and other debris.

Pro-democracy politician Gary Fan said police encircled some protesters without warning and fired four rounds of tear gas.

Protesters wearing masks gather near the Legislative Council as they continuing protest against the unpopular extradition bill in Hong Kong. Photo / AP
Protesters wearing masks gather near the Legislative Council as they continuing protest against the unpopular extradition bill in Hong Kong. Photo / AP

The demonstrators "ran for their lives" into a building, Mr Fan said.

"The people didn't have anywhere to escape from the scene," he said. "How can this be a minimal use of force?"

Mr Lee reiterated Ms Lam's insistence that complaints against police would be handled through agencies established to deal with such issues.

Ms Lam formally apologised on Tuesday and said she was responsible for the extradition bill mess. The fact she did not bow in apology was front-page news, with many in Hong Kong criticising Ms Lam for an apparent lack of contrition.

Ms Lam has insisted the legislation is needed for Hong Kong to uphold justice and not become a magnet for fugitives. It would expand the scope of criminal suspect transfers to include mainland China, Taiwan and Macau.

Samson Yuen, a professor at Hong Kong's Lingnan University, said the extradition bill was like a "knife at the throat" for many in Hong Kong.

"There's a lot of energy, emotion and passion and also anger," he said in an interview. "It's a total mobilisation of society."