Protesters marched from Victoria Park to the Central district and criticised the leadership of the current chief executive, CY Leung who was appointed by a pro-Beijing committee last July.
"The main goal of the rally is to push through for genuine democracy and to ask for Leung Chun-ying to step down," Jackie Hung of the Civil Human Rights Front, which organises the annual march, told AFP.
Speaking at a ceremony earlier in the day, Mr Leung said that the Hong Kong government was committed to introducing full democracy, explaining that implementing universal suffrage was a "major task". He gave no timetable for public consultations.
It is 16 years since the former British colony's handover to China.
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