From dignitaries including former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Catholic leader Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun to a 64-year-old woman with a walking stick, tens of thousands thronged the streets yesterday with a simple request for Beijing: trust us enough to give us universal suffrage. As the city marked 10 years of Chinese rule with a string of celebrations, they marched in the heat from Victoria Park to government headquarters in Central, with many vowing to do so every year until democracy finally arrives. Waving homemade flags and newspaper pages with the words 'universal suffrage' on them, they chanted slogans including: 'Trust the Hong Kong people', 'One person, one vote,' and 'Hong Kong's future is in my hands'. Using a walking stick has never prevented Ho Kwai-ying, 64, from joining the march. 'Democracy is important for the next generation,' said Ms Ho, who has joined the pro-democracy marches since 2003. The march - hailed by Beijing's top official in Hong Kong as evidence that the city's freedoms had been maintained - began at 2.40pm, 10 minutes after a rival march organised by a government-friendly group finished. The mood was calm and peaceful but this did not persuade police to drop their guard, with tight controls in force. Organisers said more iron barriers had been erected along the route than in previous years, which deterred passers-by from joining in. 'Our helpers all said there were more iron gates this year, especially the area near the Central Library, which had probably barred many citizens from joining,' said Tam Chun-yin, vice-convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, which organised the march. Police said the arrangements were similar to those in previous years. The marchers received occasional cheers from onlookers, including mainland tourists with cameras. Speaking after reaching government headquarters, Cardinal Zen said: 'Today's footsteps are certainly full of hope. Hong Kong is a diverse society and there are many different demands along the way. 'But the main theme is very clear: democracy.' Various groups expressed a variety of demands that included saving RTHK, fighting for a minimum wage, upholding academic freedom and freeing jailed journalist Ching Cheong, jailed on the mainland for spying for Taiwan. Ching's wife, Mary Lau Man-yee, joined the demonstration. The march also was joined by Next Media chairman and Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying. The government said it fully respected people's rights to take part in the procession and exercise their freedom of expression. 'The chief executive has undertaken to completely resolve the issue of universal suffrage within his term of office,' a spokesman said, adding that the government would continue to adopt a 'pragmatic, proactive and conciliatory approach' in advancing democracy in the city. He said the government would adopt a 'people-based' approach in addressing various demands in the community. Central government liaison office director Gao Siren said Hong Kong was a diverse society which allowed different beliefs and religions. 'Ten years since the change of sovereignty, Hong Kong still enjoys its freedom of press and speech, its economic system has not changed and its judiciary remains independent,' he said.