2019 Hong Kong protests

2019 Hong Kong protests
(March–June, July, August, September, October)
Part of the Hong Kong–Mainland China conflict
Protesters marching on 9 June 2019[1]
Date31 March 2019 – ongoing
(200 days, total)[2]
9 June 2019 – ongoing
(130 days, large-scale break out)[3]
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[10]
MethodsDiverse (see tactics and methods)
  • Bill suspended on 15 June, declared as "dead" on 9 July.[11]
  • Police partially retracted characterisation of protests on or before 12 June as "riots", except for five individuals in Admiralty on 12 June[12]
  • Lam announces on 4 September that the bill would be withdrawn in a future government session[13]
Parties to the civil conflict

(no centralised authority)

Industry workers involved:

  • Legal (6 June & 7 August)
  • Journalists (14 July)
  • Social workers (21 July 30 August & 16 September)
  • Finance (1 August)
  • Healthcare (2, 12–14 August & 2 September)
  • 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)[17][18][19][20][21][22]
(as of September 2019)
Injuries2,000+ (as of 15 August 2019)[16]
Arrested2,379 (as of 10 October 2019)[23]

The 2019 Hong Kong protests, also known as the Anti–Extradition Law Amendment Bill or Anti-ELAB movement, are an ongoing series of demonstrations in Hong Kong which began with the aim to oppose the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill proposed by the Hong Kong government.[24][25] 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 currently have extradition agreements, including Taiwan and mainland China.[26] People were concerned that the bill would subject Hong Kong residents and visitors to the mainland Chinese jurisdiction, undermining the autonomy of the region and its civil liberties.[27][28][29][30] As the protests progressed, the protesters laid out five key demands, which include investigation into the alleged police misconduct and resumption of democratic reforms which are promised in the Basic Law but have stagnated since the 2014 Umbrella Revolution.[24][31] The Chinese central government has described the protests as "the worst crisis in Hong Kong" since the handover in 1997.[32]

Demonstrations against the bill began in March and April and turned into continuing mass movements in June.[33][34] 9 June saw the first ever use of artificial intelligence in measuring protesting crowds in the history of Hong Kong and 517,478 people[35] were identified as they marched for the withdrawal of the bill.[36][37][38] A day later, Chief Executive Carrie Lam vowed to push ahead with the extradition bill despite huge protests.[39][40][41][42] On 12 June, the day on which the bill was scheduled for a second reading in the Legislative Council, the protests showed a sharp escalation in violence. Riot police deployed tear gas and rubber bullets, but protesters successfully stalled the functioning of the legislature.[43] An even bigger march took place on 16 Jun, just one day after the suspension of the bill, as protesters shifted the focus into the alleged excessive use of force by the police on 12 June. A scholar on-field gave an independent estimate of 500,000 to 800,000,[44][45] while the organisers claimed that two million people participated and the police reported that 338,000 people marched at its peak.[46][47][48][49]

1 July marked the storming of the Legislative Council Complex and the vandalisation of central government symbols there.[50] Subsequently, the protests have continued throughout the summer, escalating into increasingly violent confrontations involving the police, activists on both sides, suspected triad gangs, and local residents in all districts throughout the region.[51] 21 July marked the Yuen Long attack where triads assaulted protesters and bystanders all night long, while police were accused of collusion by their intentional slow action.[52] S Subsequent police operations and alleged misconduct prompted a general strike and city-wide protests on 5 August. About 1.7 million people (organisers' estimate) also attended a rally condemning police brutality on 18 August.[53] Inspired by the Baltic Way, a human chain 50 kilometres long created the Hong Kong Way.[54] There were also pro-police rallies that attracted hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents.[55]

Lam suspended the extradition bill on 15 June and declared the bill "dead" on 9 July, but fell short of a promise to withdraw it until 4 September.[56][57][58] However, she refused to concede to 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 her resignation along with the introduction of universal suffrage for election of the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive.[59]

Large-scale demonstrations occurred on the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, with an 18-year-old student protester shot by police on 1 October. Attempting to curb protests, the Chief Executive in Council invoked the Emergency Regulations Ordinance on 4 October to implement an anti-mask law.[60]


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.[30] 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.[30][61]

Underlying causes

The 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) 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.[62] 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 democratic development.[63] People began to fear the loss of the "high degree of autonomy" provided by the Hong Kong Basic Law, as the government of the People's Republic of China appeared to be increasingly and overtly interfering with Hong Kong's affairs. Notably, the Hong Kong Legislative Council oath-taking controversy ended with the disqualification of six lawmakers following a ruling by courts in Mainland China; the Causeway Bay Books disappearances sparked concerns for state-sanctioned rendition and extrajudicial detention.[64]

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[65] 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 respondents were, the more distrustful they were of the Chinese government.[64] Hong Kong youth had already faced political turmoil since the Moral and National Education controversy in 2012, and were no longer confident in the systems which supposedly 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.[62]

For some protesters, the Umbrella Revolution was an inspiration that brought about a political awakening.[62] Others felt that peaceful methods were not effective and resorted to using more radical methods to express their view.[8][66] Both CNN and The Guardian noted that unlike the 2014 protests, protesters in 2019 were driven by a sense of desperation rather than hope,[67][68][67] and that the aims of the protests have evolved from withdrawing the bill to fighting for greater freedom and liberties.[69]

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