2019 Hong Kong protests

2019 Hong Kong protests
(March–June, July, August, September)
Part of the 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill and Hong Kong–Mainland China conflict
Hundreds of thousands of protesters marching on 9 June 2019[1]
Date31 March 2019 – ongoing[2][3]
(5 months, 2 weeks and 2 days)[note 1]
Various districts of Hong Kong
Dozens of other cities abroad
Caused by
  • Full withdrawal of the extradition bill from the legislative process
  • Retraction of the characterisation of the protests as "riots"
  • Release and exoneration of arrested protesters
  • Establishment of an independent commission of inquiry into police behaviour
  • Universal suffrage for Legislative Council and Chief Executive elections
  • Resignation of Carrie Lam[9]
MethodsDiverse (see tactics and methods)
  • Bill suspended on 15 June, declared as "dead" on 9 July.[10]
  • Police partially retracted characterisation of protests on or before 12 June as "riots", except for 5 individuals in Admiralty on 12 June[11]
  • Lam announces on 4 September that the bill will be withdrawn in a future government session.[12]
Parties to the civil conflict

(no centralised authority)

Industry workers involved

  • Legal (6 June & 7 August)
  • Social workers (21 July)
  • Finance (1 August)
  • Healthcare (2 August)
  • Civil servants (2 August)
  • Teachers (17 August)
  • Accountants (23 August)
  • Aviation (28 August)
Lead figures
(no centralised leadership)
Injuries and arrests
Death(s)8 (all suicides)[15][16][17][18][19][20]
(as of September 2019)
Injuries2,100+ (as of 15 August 2019)
Arrested1,117 (as of 2 September 2019)[21]

The 2019 Hong Kong protests, also known as Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement or Anti-ELAB Movement, are an ongoing series of demonstrations in Hong Kong, China which began with the aim to oppose the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill proposed by the Hong Kong government.[22][23] If enacted, the bill would allow local authorities to detain and extradite criminal fugitives who are wanted in territories with which Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements, including Taiwan and mainland China.[24] People were concerned that the bill would subject Hong Kong citizens and visitors to the mainland Chinese jurisdiction, undermining the autonomy of the region and its civil liberties.[25][26][27][28] As the protests progressed, the protesters laid out five key demands, including over the alleged police misconduct and democratic reform which has stagnated since the 2014 Umbrella Revolution.[22] The Chinese central government has stated it is "the worst crisis in Hong Kong" since the handover in 1997.[29]

Demonstrations against the bill began in March and April and turned into consecutive mass movements in June.[30][31] Hundreds of thousands of people marched against the bill on 9 June.[32][33][34][35] Protests on 12 June, the day on which the bill was scheduled for a second reading in the Legislative Council, marked a sharp escalation in violence. Riot police deployed tear gas and rubber bullets against groups of demonstrators, but protesters successfully stalled the passage of the bill.[36] Organisers claimed two million attended, while the police reported that 338,000 people marched at its peak on 16 June, the day after Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended the bill.[37][38][39][40]

On 1 July, the 22nd anniversary of the handover, hundreds of thousands of people participated in the annual July march.[41] A portion of these demonstrators split from the march and broke into the Legislative Council Complex, vandalising central government symbols.[42] Subsequently, the protests have continued throughout the summer, escalating into increasingly violent confrontations involving the police, activists on both sides, suspected triad gangs, rioters, and local residents in over 20 different neighbourhoods throughout the region.[43] 21 July marked the Yuen Long mob attacks where organised triad members assaulted on protesters and bystanders, which heightened the tension. Subsequent police operations and alleged misconduct prompted a general strike and a city-wide protests on 5 August. About 1.7 million people also attended a rally condemning police brutality on 18 August.[44] Inspired by the Baltic Way, an estimated 210,000 people created "The Hong Kong Way", a human chain 50 kilometres long.[45] There were also pro-police rallies that attracted hundreds of thousands Hong Kong residents to attend.[46]

Lam suspended the extradition bill on 15 June and declared the bill "dead" on 9 July, but fell short of a full withdrawal until 4 September.[47][48][49] However, she refused to concede any of the other four demands, namely an independent inquiry on police brutality, the release of arrested protesters, a complete retraction of the official characterisation of the protests as "riots", and universal suffrage of the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive, and her resignation.[50]


Direct cause

The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 was first proposed by the government of Hong Kong on February 2019 in response to the 2018 murder of Poon Hiu-wing by her boyfriend Chan Tong-kai in Taiwan, where the two Hong Kong residents were visiting as tourists. As there is no extradition treaty with Taiwan (because the government of China does not recognise its Cap. 525) to establish a mechanism for case-by-case transfers of fugitives, on the order of the Chief Executive, to any jurisdiction with which the city lacks a formal extradition treaty.[28] One such jurisdiction would be mainland China.

The inclusion of mainland China in the amendment is of concern to different sectors of Hong Kong society. Pro-democracy advocates fear the removal of the separation of the region's jurisdiction from mainland Chinese laws administered by the Communist Party, thereby eroding the "one country, two systems" principle in practice since the 1997 handover. Opponents of the bill urged the Hong Kong government to explore other avenues, such as establishing an extradition arrangement solely with Taiwan, and to sunset the arrangement immediately after the surrender of the suspect.[28][51]

Underlying causes

2019 Hong Kong protests came four and a half years after the Umbrella Revolution in 2014, which began after the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) had issued a decision regarding proposed reforms to the Hong Kong electoral system, which was largely seen as restrictive. However, despite mass rallies, the government did not make any concession and the movement ended in failure.[52] Since then, there has been no progress in achieving genuine universal suffrage; only half of the seats in the Legislative Council remain directly elected, and the Chief Executive of Hong Kong continues to be voted by the small-circle Election Committee. Following the failed protests, the 2017 imprisonment of Hong Kong democracy activists further dashed the city's hope of advancing democractic development.[53] People began to fear the loss of the "high degree of autonomy" provided for in the Basic Law, as Mainland China appeared to be increasingly and overtly interfering with Hong Kong's affairs. For instance, the Hong Kong Legislative Council oath-taking controversy ended with the disqualification of six lawmakers due to a legal ruling by courts in Mainland China; the Causeway Bay Books disappearances sparked concerns for state-sanctioned rendition and extrajudicial detention.[54]

The rise of localism and the pro-independence movement was marked by the campaign for the 2016 New Territories East by-election by activist Edward Leung[55] as fewer and fewer Hong Kong youths identify themselves as Chinese due to the legal, social and cultural differences between Hong Kong and mainland China. Pollsters at the University of Hong Kong found that the younger they were, the more distrustful they were towards the Central government.[54] Hong Kong youth had already faced political turmoil since the Moral and National Education controversy in 2012, and they were no longer confident in the systems which were said to have protected their rights. With the approach of 2047, when the Basic Law is set to expire, and along with it the constitutional guarantees enshrined within it, sentiments of an uncertain future drove youth to join the protests against the extradition bill.[52]

Some protesters felt that peaceful methods were not effective and resorted to using more radical methods to express their view.[8][56] For some protesters, the Umbrella Revolution was an inspiration, as the movement brought about a political awakening for them.[52] Both CNN and The Guardian noted that unlike the 2014 protests, protesters in 2019 were driven by a sense of desperation rather than hope,[57][58][57] and that the aims of the protests have evolved from withdrawing the bill to fighting for greater freedom and liberties.[59]

Other Languages
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Fán Sung Chûng Yun-thung
Simple English: 2019 Hong Kong protests