Hong Kong activists wear Joker and Winnie-the-Pooh masks

Hong Kong demonstrators donned cartoon masks on Friday as they formed human chains around the city in defiance of a ban on face coverings at rallies.

Gathering along the city’s subway lines hand-in-hand, pro-democracy protesters masqueraded as characters including Winnie-the-Pooh, the Joker and Guy Fawkes.

They held up their phone lights and chanted slogans calling for a ‘revolution of our times’ – a battle cry of the five-month-long movement which has shaken the Chinese city with violent confrontations between protesters and police.

Hong Kong’s protests began in June in opposition to a now-abandoned extradition bill, which would have allowed the transfer of accused criminals to mainland China.

A protester wears a Winnie-the-Pooh mask during a demonstration in Hong Kong on Friday, in which demonstrators formed human chains around the city

Pro-democracy demonstrators held up their phone lights and chanted slogans calling for a 'revolution of our times'

Pro-democracy demonstrators held up their phone lights and chanted slogans calling for a ‘revolution of our times’

Over four months, the demonstrations evolved into a pro-democracy movement and an outlet for anger at social inequality in the Asian financial hub. 

Chinese internet users have joked that Chinese president Xi Jinping resembles AA Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh – leading the country’s censors to scrub online references to it.

Fawkes masks have come to represent anti-government protests around the world.

The protests were in opposition to the government’s decision this month to invoke colonial-era emergency regulations banning face masks at rallies as it struggles to contain demonstrations.

The peaceful event comes ahead of a mass rally that organisers are planning on Sunday to press their demands.

A group of pro-democracy demonstrators wore masks of Chinese President Xi Jinping during Friday's protests

A group of pro-democracy demonstrators wore masks of Chinese President Xi Jinping during Friday’s protests

Pictured: A protester in a Pepe the Frog mask

Pictured: A Hong Kong demonstrator in a skull mask

Gathering along the city’s subway lines hand-in-hand on Friday night, protesters masqueraded as characters including Pepe the Frog (left) and a skull (right)

Another pro-democracy protester wore a gas mask and hard hat as she participated in a demonstration on Friday

Another pro-democracy protester wore a gas mask and hard hat as she participated in a demonstration on Friday

The peaceful event comes ahead of a mass rally that organisers are planning on Sunday to press their demands

The peaceful event comes ahead of a mass rally that organisers are planning on Sunday to press their demands 

One pro-democracy demonstrator in Hong Kong made a mask of a government form with his glasses punched through it

One pro-democracy demonstrator in Hong Kong made a mask of a government form with his glasses punched through it 

Police refused to authorise the march, citing risks to public safety and order, but protesters have previously ignored such rejections.

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has said the ban on masks, which have become a hallmark of the protests, is aimed at deterring radical behaviour. Offenders can be punished by up to a year in prison.

But the protesters say they wear them out of fear of retribution and concerns that their identities will be shared with China’s massive state security apparatus.

This month, two police shootings that injured teenage protesters, the stabbing of a police officer, and the detonation of a small, remote-controlled bomb close to police officers ratcheted up violence to levels unprecedented since the former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997. 

Demonstrators held hands as they attempted form human chains extending 25 miles across Hong Kong by tracing the city's subway system

Demonstrators held hands as they attempted form human chains extending 25 miles across Hong Kong by tracing the city’s subway system

Demonstrations in Hong Kong stretched into their fifth month after the Chinese territory's government invoked emergency powers earlier this month to introduce an anti-mask law

Demonstrations in Hong Kong stretched into their fifth month after the Chinese territory’s government invoked emergency powers earlier this month to introduce an anti-mask law

Hong Kong's protests began in June in opposition to a now-abandoned extradition bill, which would have allowed the transfer of accused criminals to mainland China

Hong Kong’s protests began in June in opposition to a now-abandoned extradition bill, which would have allowed the transfer of accused criminals to mainland China

Friday's protests were in opposition to the government's decision this month to invoke colonial-era emergency regulations banning face masks at rallies

Friday’s protests were in opposition to the government’s decision this month to invoke colonial-era emergency regulations banning face masks at rallies

Masked students and protesters gather to form a human chain along a street in Hong Kong on Friday evening

Masked students and protesters gather to form a human chain along a street in Hong Kong on Friday evening

Some protesters assumed the identity of Mr Xi or Hong Kong’s deeply unpopular Beijing-backed leader. 

Others wore masks depicting Pepe the Frog, a character that has become a symbol for the Hong Kong protesters who are likely unaware of its association with far-right extremists in the US.

At least one protester parodied NBA basketball star LeBron James. He has been criticised for caving to China’s communist leaders after he suggested free speech can have consequences, following a now-deleted tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of the protests that angered Beijing.

It is unclear if demonstrators achieved their aim. There were gaps in a part of the chain in one city centre location

It is unclear if demonstrators achieved their aim. There were gaps in a part of the chain in one city centre location

The protesters' aim was to form human chains extending 25 miles across Hong Kong by tracing the city's subway system, mimicking a similar event in August

Pictured: Another protester wears a paper mask on Friday

The protesters’ aim was to form human chains extending 25 miles across Hong Kong by tracing the city’s subway system, mimicking a similar event in August 

Protesters say they wear masks out of fear of retribution and concerns that their identities will be shared with China's massive state security apparatus

Protesters say they wear masks out of fear of retribution and concerns that their identities will be shared with China’s massive state security apparatus

Customers in a restaurant watch as masked students and protesters gather to form a human chain along a street in Hong Kong

Customers in a restaurant watch as masked students and protesters gather to form a human chain along a street in Hong Kong

The protesters’ aim was to form human chains extending 25 miles across Hong Kong by tracing the city’s subway system, mimicking a similar event in August. 

It is unclear if they achieved that. There were gaps in a part of the chain in one city centre location.

Also on Friday, Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific said passenger traffic to mainland China last month plummeted 23.2 per cent from a year ago, in the latest sign of the protests’ impact on the city’s tourism industry. 

The decline contributed to a 7.1 per cent drop in overall passenger numbers.