PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 July, 2003, 12:00am

South China Morning Post photographers have raced to capture Hong Kong's defining moments in the years since the newspaper hit the streets. In this, the publication's centenary year, our researchers are trawling the archives to illustrate a forthcoming book celebrating 100 years of history as seen through the camera lens. Post Magazine provides a preview of some of the most spectacular images.

July 7, 1971: Demonstrators struggle against police during a violent rally in Victoria Park over the United States decision to return the Diaoyu Islands to Japanese control.

Despite the Urban Council's refusal to grant permission for the rally, about 3,000 protesters converged on the park, entering from different directions in an attempt to confuse police. They distributed leaflets recalling the Marco Polo Bridge incident that sparked the Sino-Japanese war in 1937, held banners and shouted slogans calling for the islands to be protected.

When police attempted to disperse the crowd by using batons, protesters pelted them with bottles and sticks. Passing cars in Causeway Bay were also hit by missiles, and a police officer's motorbike was set alight.

Community leaders blamed the police - particularly their use of batons - for triggering the violence. Authorities said 20 people were arrested and six demonstrators injured. However, witnesses said they saw many more people leaving the park in bloodied clothing. Later that night, 200 students who had participated in the demonstration collected about $5,000 to bail out those arrested.

The Diaoyu Islands, known in Japan as Senkaku, are five volcanic isles 170km northeast of Taiwan. Japan claims to have sovereignty of the islands because of a treaty it signed with China in 1895, after the first Sino-Japanese war. However, even today China fiercely disputes this claim.