The government says it would be "irresponsible" to rashly start up the political reform process again, as thousands of people took to the streets with demands that included a call for universal suffrage in elections for the city's executive and legislature.
A march to mark the fifth anniversary of Beijing's announcement of a restrictive framework for the 2017 Chief Executive election and 2016 Legislative Council election was banned by the police on Friday.
Responding to enquiries, the government said: "Issues relating to constitutional development are extremely controversial and the Government must act prudently."
It said rashly embarking on political reform would further polarise society, which would be irresponsible.
Any discussions must be conducted in a "peaceful atmosphere with mutual trust in a pragmatic matter," the government added.
It pointed out that the previous administration spent 20 months dealing with the issue, but its proposal was voted down in Legco after failing to obtain the support of two-thirds of members.
"The process has also created serious conflicts in the community," it added.
Despite the police’s ban on the planned Civil Human Rights Front march, thousands of people still took to the streets.
The decision by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in 2014 eventually led to the 79-day pro-democracy Occupy movement of that year.
One man, a 17-year-old protester who gave his name as Lee, said he hoped the government would listen to the demands of the Hong Kong people.
"We are frustrated – that's why we have to come out and tell them, we need the freedom of universal suffrage," he said.
'Irresponsible to restart political reform now'
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