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Anti-Extradition Protest 100-Day Record

iCompass - 2019/10/09 10:50 | 點擊數:188629

The Hong Kong anti-extradition protests, also known as the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill (ELAB) Movement, started as a social movement on 31 March 2019. No unified leadership and organisation were noticeable in the campaign. Protests pressuring the government took place in the form of mass rally and public assembly, occupation of roads, enclosing of buildings, general strikes at work, at school and in business, as well as other radical actions such as suicides of protesters. The main cause of the campaign was that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government proposed an amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance to allow extradition of suspects in Hong Kong to mainland China for trial. Protesters worried that Hong Kong's status as an independent jurisdiction under "One Country, Two Systems" would be undermined.

In March and April 2019, Civil Human Rights Front initiated two rounds of street rallies. On 9 June, Civil Human Rights Front again launched another rally and a large number of citizens participated. On 12 June, as the Hong Kong Legislative Council resumed the Second Reading debate of the amendment bill, violent clashes broke out between protesters and the police. Thereafter protesters proposed five demands, namely to completely withdraw the revised draft of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, to retract the classification of the movement as “riot”, to withdraw charges against protesters, to investigate the abuse of power by the police, and for the Chief Executive Carrie Lam to resign. On 16 June, the Civil Human Rights Front launched an even larger-scale demonstration. On 1 July, during the rally, some protesters broke into the Legislative Council Complex.  The demand for Carrie Lam to resign was later changed to achieve “dual universal suffrage”.

Since then, demonstrators have initiated regular protests almost every week and have evolved from peaceful demonstrations at the beginning into conflicts between police and civilians. Demonstrators even tried to escalate their strategy and expand the campaign to more locations in Hong Kong. The conflict with the police has intensified. In mid-August, demonstrators twice disrupted operations at the Hong Kong International Airport. On 18 August, Civil Human Rights Front held another large-scale peaceful rally. Carrie Lam proposed four actions and announced to withdraw the draft amendment to the Extradition Bill but declined to respond to the other four demands. Until 2 September, the police arrested 1,117 people and more than 115 people were prosecuted. The movement was seen as the most critical political crisis since the return of Hong Kong in 1997.

In February 2018, Hong Kong resident Chan Tong-kai killed his girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing in Taiwan and abandoned her body in a suitcase in Taipei. The Hong Kong police could not charge Chan for murder since he had returned to Hong Kong.  The case has caused heated public discussion. In comparison with the long-term extradition agreements between Hong Kong and 20 other countries, this murder case revealed loopholes in mutual legal assistance between Hong Kong and Taiwan. In February 2019, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government promoted the revised draft of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance in response to the murder case, stating that the amendments were devised to fill the judicial loopholes and prevent Hong Kong from becoming a "paradise for fugitives".  It subsequently triggered a series of mass protests and political stalemate.

The revised draft allows extradition of suspects in Hong Kong to the jurisdiction of the Chinese mainland for trial. In response to that, the industrial and commercial sector, the financial sector, the academic community, the media, the legal profession and other industries have raised objections. They are concerned that the revised draft will weaken Hong Kong's status as an independent jurisdiction under "one country, two systems" and that the regulations will become a tool for suppressing dissidents. In the legislative process, two Bills Committees emerged in the Legislative Council to deal with the revised draft, because it was unable to elect a chairman accepted by both the pro-establishment camp and the pan-democrats. The two committees were supported by members of the pan-democrats and the pro-establishment members respectively. The two sides fall in a state of deadlock and several councillors were injured in a clash.

In the face of gradually spreading and expanding public anxiety and anger, the Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the relevant officials failed to respond properly. According to the public survey conducted by Ming Pao in the period from the end of May to the beginning of June, 47.2% of the respondents opposed the extradition amendment bill; but if the bill had a mechanism "putting those accused of breaking mainland laws on trial locally", the support rate would rise to over 54.5%. Meanwhile, the political and business circles of the United States and some European countries and the international community also expressed concerns about the extradition amendment bill with the risks of undermining Hong Kong's "special status" in the international arena and losing Hong Kong’s advantages.

Early Stage

On 31 March 2019, Civil Human Rights Front initiated the first demonstration against the extradition amendment bill. A total of 12,000 people participated according to the organiser, while the police claimed there were 5,200 people during the peak period. On 28 April, Civil Human Rights Front launched a second march against the amendment bill (“Withdraw Extradition Law Amendment March”). Civil Human Rights Front estimated 130,000 participants, while the police said that 22,800 joined during the peak period, either figures was the record high among democratic demonstrations since the umbrella movement in 2014. It also set a record since Carrie Lam took office. In May, alumni, teachers and staff as well as students from at least 200 tertiary institutions, secondary and primary schools initiated a joint opposition to the amendment bill. On 6 June, the legal profession staged a silent march in black dress to protest the amendment bill. The initiators estimated that nearly 3,000 people participated, making it the most legal professionals participated since the return of Hong Kong. The police said there were 880 people at the peak.

On 9 June, Civil Human Rights Front again launched a demonstration to protest against the amendment bill. A large number of citizens wearing white clothes participated, Civil Human Rights Front estimated 1.03 million participants, and the police said there were 240,000 people at the peak. The crowds caused at least five MTR stations to implement control measures, and later police officers and protesters came into conflicts. On the next day, Carrie Lam refused to make concessions on the amendment bill. She expressed her gratitude to the public for expressing positive and negative views and would continue to carry out four aspects of work. On 12 June, the Legislative Council scheduled to resume the second reading of the amendment bill. A large number of demonstrators enclosed and occupied road around the Legislative Council Complex in Admiralty. At the peak, more than 40,000 people participated, which led to violent clashes.

Photo taken by Kim Kam on 12.6.2019

In order to ensure normal operation of the Legislative Council, the police fired tear gas, beanbag rounds and rubber bullets at the demonstrators. In the evening, hundreds of demonstrators retreated to Central. The Legislative Council delayed the second reading debate due to the protests. Carrie Lam reiterated that she would not withdraw the amendment bill. On 14 June, a group of mothers held the "Hong Kong Mothers' Anti-Extradition Rally". The organiser estimated a turnout of over 6,000, and the police said the highest peak was about 980. On the next day, with the intensification of resignation pressure, Carrie Lam announced that the Government would "suspend" the extradition bill indefinitely. She stressed her reasonable mind would not be changed and would not be withdrawn. She said that the government’s work was insufficient and repeatedly thanked the pro-establishment camp.

Continuous Actions

On 15 June, an anti-extradition bill protester Marco Leung Ling-kit fell to his death. On the next day, Civil Human Rights Front again launched a protest and demanded the withdrawal of the extradition bill and the resignation of Carrie Lam. A large number of people in black clothes opposing the extradition bill participated. Civil Human Rights Front estimated nearly 2 million people, but the police estimated that 338,000 at its peak, the largest gathering in a few weeks. The rally lasted for 8 hours, after which more than a thousand people stayed in the government headquarters. The Hong Kong Government issued a statement in response, and Carrie Lam apologised to the public for the conflicts and disputes caused by inadequate government work. On 17 June, Carrie Lam met with people from different walks of life to explain the suspension of the extradition bill.

On 18 June, Carrie Lam publicly apologised for the amendment bill but refused to use the word "withdrawal", and suggested that she would not resign. On 21 June, more than 10,000 protesters surrounded the Hong Kong Police Headquarters and disbanded the next day. Hundreds of others "flashed" to block government offices such as Revenue Tower, Immigration Tower and Wan Chai Government Building. On 24 June, about 100 people surrounded Revenue Tower and Immigration Tower. They collided with some members of the public and at least five departments were affected. On 26 June, more than a thousand protesters marched to foreign consulates, and Civil Human Rights Front launched a rally (G20 Free Hong Kong Assembly), urging national leaders such as US president Donald Trump in the G20 Osaka to exert pressure on China about issues in Hong Kong. After that, nearly a thousand people surrounded the police headquarters and sprayed paintings, smashed signages, and threw eggs.

On 27 June, hundreds of demonstrators surrounded Justice Place and requested the Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah to respond to the appeals and later dismissed at night. On the same day, Carrie Lam met with members of Friends of Hong Kong Association and claimed that the central government supported her and she would not resign. She refused to set up an independent commission of inquiry and refused to not charge protesters. On the next day, Carrie Lam met with the HKCPPCC (Provincial) Member Association and called on the society to start again. On 30 June, Legislative Councillor Junius Ho Kwan-yiu initiated "630 Support Police, Protect the Rule of Law, Keep Peace" gathering. The organiser said 165,000 joined and the police put the number at 53,000.

Escalated Actions

On 1 July, the 22nd anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China, Civil Human Rights Front held an annual large-scale 1 July rally with the theme of "Withdrawal of the evil law and Carrie Lam to step down". Civil Human Rights Front claimed that the number of participants reached 550,000, setting a record for the July 1st rally. The police estimated 190,000 during the peak. On the same day, after some conflicts between the police and protesters, more than 100 activists stormed into the Legislative Council complex and destroyed some facilities and it lasted for three hours. Three people insisted on staying behind and were later lifted by other demonstrators. The next morning, the police advanced from multiple directions and fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. At 4 am, Carrie Lam met with the press and strongly condemned "violent acts". On 5 July, a large number of parents attended the solidarity rally. The organisers said that nearly 8,000 people attended the event, and the police estimated that the highest peak was 1,300.

Photo taken by Kim Kam on 1.7.2019

On 6 July, netizens launched a "Reclaim Tuen Mun Park" campaign and a number of clashes took place during the procession. The police tried to disperse the crowd with pepper spray and hundreds of people surrounded the Tuen Mun Police Station. On the next day, netizens launched a march in Tsim Sha Tsui, West Kowloon, to lobby for support and attention of tourists from mainland China. Later, conflicts broke out on occupyed roads such as Nathan Road. Demonstrators who did not want to disperse went to Mong Kok along Nathan Road. Chief Superintendent Rupert Dover was once surrounded by dozens of protesters. The police then dispatched a large number of riot police to disperse. On 9 July, Carrie Lam took the initiative to state that the controversy in Hong Kong was aroused because of the Extradition Amendment Bill. She recognised that the work done by the government work "completely failed" and that the amendment bill had been "dead". The government was willing to listen to public opinion but she continued to refuse to use the term "withdrawal”.

On the next day, some members of the public were prevented from setting up a "Lennon Wall" at Yau Tong MTR station. The two sides broke out into clashes and the police raised a red flag warning. On 13 July, a large number of demonstrators participated in the "Reclaim Sheung Shui" rally, and clashes broke out in several places. 15 people were sent to the hospital. During the incident, about 100 people surrounded four plainclothes police officers, and a demonstrator attempted to jump over the bridge during the dispersion. On the next day, demonstrators participated in a rally in Shatin, and when they confronted the riot police, they formed an 800-meter human chain to transfer materials. Under the police's besieging from different directions, protesters threw debris and the two sides fought in New Town Plaza. At least 37 people were arrested. Later, Carrie Lam accused protesters of riot in the shopping mall.

Intensified Conflicts

On 17 July, thousands of elderlies participated in the "Silver-hair silent protest", many of whom were on crutches or wheelchairs. At the same time, telephone numbers and personal data of some officials such as Carrie Lam, Legislative Councillors and police officers were disclosed online. On 20 July, the pro-establishment camp held a "Safeguard Hong Kong" rally. On the next day, Civil Human Rights Front launched another rally. Thousands of protesters blocked the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong for the first time.  They threw eggs, sprayed graffiti on signs and smeared the National Emblem of the People’s Republic of China. The police fired tear gas at the demonstrators. On the same day, a large number of people in white clothing beat commuters and journalists in Yuen Long MTR West Rail station and the assault lasted for two hours. 45 people were injured and sent to the hospital.

Photo from internet

On 22 July, Carrie Lam condemned the Yuen Long attack and demanded the police to follow up. The police stated that some of the attackers had triad backgrounds. On 24 July, about 50 people responded to the "uncooperative movement" at Admiralty station. A total of 30 trains were affected and two people received notice of prosecution. On 26 July, demonstrators held a rally in Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong International Airport Passenger Terminal Building, of which 1,500 were in Queen Elizabeth Hospital. On the next day, a large number of people took to streets in Yuen Long and some clashed with the police.  The whole incident lasted for more than seven hours. Protesters threw bricks and surrounded the police car, and the police deployed tear gas and sponge bombs to disperse them and entered the Yuen Long station to attack many people with batons. Demonstrators also found a private car with canes in the back seat and a samurai sword in the trunk.

Photo taken by Kim Kam on 28.7.2019

On 28 July, a large group of protesters went to the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong after the rally, throwing bricks and bamboo branches, and arson in a number of locations.  The police set up a strict line of defence and fired tear gas in the downtown area for four hours. On 30 July, hundreds of people surrounded the Kwai Chung Police Station and a police-civilian conflict broke out later. A police officer pointed a shotgun at protesters. Hundreds of people surrounded the Tin Shui Wai Police Station on the next day to support three young people arrested at the "Lennon Wall". During the incident, a vehicle passing by fired numerous rounds of firework at the crowd, injuring six people. On 1 August, Hong Kong financial industry practitioners held a flash rally to protest. On the same day, the police raided materials in an industrial building. Eight people including Hong Kong National Party convener Chan Ho-ti were arrested for possessing offensive weapons. After that, more than 100 people surrounded the Shatin Police Station.

"Citywide Strikes"

On 2 August, civil servants participated in the march with a theme "civil servants stand with fellow Hong Kong citizens", demanding responses to the five major demands.  And the medical and nursing profession also held a rally. On the same day, more than 100 protesters went to the Ma On Shan Police Station. Police officers fired pepper bombs. On 3 August, civilians again launched a "Mongkok march". The first team marched on the original route. Hundreds of protesters "flashed" to block the Cross Harbour Tunnel and threw bricks at the Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station. Police cars at the Wong Tai Sin district were enclosed. The police cast tear gas in the three districts. On the same day, supporters of the police held a "Hope for Tomorrow" gathering. On 4 August, protesters gathered in Tseung Kwan O and the Western District. They confronted the police with a "flash mob" approach and once halted the Cross Harbour Tunnel. Protesters set fires and the police fired tear gas in Causeway Bay.

Photo taken by Kim Kam on 4.8.2019

On 5 August, a number of organisations staged a "Citywide strike extended to seven districts" campaign, which started strike at work, school and shops, around seven districts. In order to halt traffic and the city operation, protesters occupied main roads and blocked at least 13 police stations. Hundreds of flights were cancelled. During the conflict, the police drove away with a large volume of tear gas and rubber bullets, causing disturbance and dissatisfaction around neighbourhood. On the same day, Carrie Lam said that protesters aimed to completely destroy Hong Kong and that extreme violence endangered the society and brought instability. She commanded to strengthen law enforcement and restore order with no delay. On 6 August, Keith Fong Chung-yin, president of the Hong Kong Baptist University Students’ Union, with some "laser pointers" newly purchased, was arrested by the police on suspicion of possessing offensive weapons of "laser guns”. Hundreds of people encircled the Sham Shui Po Police Station.

On 9 August, Carrie Lam claimed that the damage of the protests on the economy was more serious than the 2008 global financial crisis. On the same day, people gathered at the airport on a peaceful rally, and some netizens went to Wong Tai Sin and Shatin to hold an evening party to "pray for blessings and ward off evils". On 10 August, after a march in Tai Po, protesters joined at least eight "flash mobs", in the hope of consuming the police’s energy. They blocked main roads, cross harbour tunnel, and other members sat quietly at the airport. The police fired tear gas in Tai Wai Market for the first time. Some passers-by without any protective gear fled into MTR station. On 11 August, protesters marched in Sham Shui Po and Causeway Bay. Thereafter some conflicts spread to Tsim Sha Tsui and Kwai Chung. Armed forces of both sides were upgraded, petrol bombs were thrown at the police station, and the police deployed tear gas in Kwai Fung MTR station and fired pepper bombs at about 2 metres. Plainclothes officers participated in arrest. A demonstrator was shot and suffered from severe eye injury.

Temporarily Ease

On 12 August, more than 10,000 protesters went to the airport to hold a large-scale "an eye for an eye" rally. A large number of people blocked the departure lobby, causing the airport to stop and Hong Kong Airport Authority cancelled remaining 300 flights. Some demonstrators protested with their right eye covered and sprayed the words "eye for an eye" on the wall. On the next day, after the airport reopened and resumed operations, protesters poured into the blocked airport again, and about 370 flights were cancelled. The conflict intensified in the evening, and protesters surrounded Xu Jinyang and Fu Guohao. The police deployed pepper spray and pulled guns at the airport, but failed to disperse protesters. On 14 August, some protesters offered apologies for the violence at the airport.

On 17 August, after the rally "Recover Hung Hom & To Kwa Wan, rebuild peaceful community", protesters threw rubbish bins at police cars and the police fired beanbag rounds. On the same day, the pro-establishment camp held a gathering named "Against violence and safeguard Hong Kong" at Tamar Park. Peter Woo Kwong-ching and other property developers took the stage to support it. On 18 August, Civil Human Rights Front held a peaceful floating rally in Victoria Park, and pressured Carrie Lam to open dialogues.  A large number of demonstrators participated, the crowd occupied main roads, and the traffic in the Cross-Harbour Tunnel was jammed. Civil Human Rights Front estimated over 1.7 million joined, and the police said that the highest peak was 128,000. On 20 August, Carrie Lam promised to immediately build a platform for public dialogue to resolve conflicts and expand the Independent Police Complaints Council to follow up. On 21 August, protesters sat quietly at Yuen Long station and that evolved into a confrontation between the police and civilians.

On 23 August, Carrie Lam talked with former officials and called on protesters to "unlock the knot." On the same day, many citizens launched a "Hong Kong Road" human chain along the Hong Kong railway line and extended to Lion Rock by holding hands. On 24 August, an authorised march in Kwun Tong District was held but became a violent clash in three districts afterwards. At least 11 people were sent to the hospital and one was seriously injured in the eye. On the next day, clashes took place after the "March in Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing”. A specialised crowd management vehicle fired water cannons for the first time and protesters dispersed at once. Protesters proceeded with long sticks and the police officers fired live bullets for the first time. On the same day, relatives of police officers held a rally for "Returning the police to the people" for the first time and urged for an independent investigation.

Tension Again

On 28 August, Hong Kong Women's Coalition on Equal Opportunities held a "AntiELAb #MeToo" rally with the theme "In the name of law enforcement, police are using sexual violence as an instrument of intimidation". The spokesperson announced that more than 30,000 people were present. Chater Garden in Central was covered with purple light in the evening. Participants attached purple ribbons on their clothes.  Their arms were marked with slogans "#metoo" and "#protesttoo" in lipstick. The main reason for this activity was that the police was accused of suppressing protesters with sexual violence and allegedly demanding protesters to be full strip searched with an intention of abusing women. At the rally, an arrested lady revealed that a police officer allegedly rubbed her clitoris with a hard object and fed her with diuretic drugs, prompting her urge incontinence but preventing her from going to the toilet.

The sexual violence crisis centre Rainlily conducted "A Survey on Experiences of Sexual Violence in the ‘Anti-Extradition Bill’ Movement", and a total of 221 valid questionnaires were received. Among them, 46 said they had encountered different types of sexual violence. Of these, 23 cases were suspected to involve police or other law enforcement officers, 18 were suspected of involving pro-government or pro-establishment supporters, and four were suspected to be involved with protesters. Sexual violence included being touched in sensitive parts of the body or being intimidated. Rainlily said that these cases would be followed up.

Photo from internet

On 31 August, protesters set fire in at least six districts after marching. The police dispatched a specialised crowd management vehicle and shot guns as warnings at Victoria Park. On MTR’s call to the police, the police entered Prince Edward station around midnight, arrested 63 people and used batons to beat passengers. The police then blocked the platform, causing ambulance personnel to wait for 73 minutes outside the station before entering the platform for rescue. There are suspicion that police used excessive force and beat passengers or protesters to death. The Fire Services Department stated that no one died in Prince Edward station on the night of 31 Aug. However, suspicion prevailed that the injured person may have died after being sent to other stations or hospitals in the early morning on 1 September. Hence, public concerns had not been relieved.

Photo from internet

On 1 September, protesters blocked airport roads and airport express traffic, affecting a large number of passengers. They destroyed facilities and sprayed water at Tung Chung station and then retreated to the Tsing Ma Bridge on foot. On 2 September, on the first day of a new school year, more than 4,000 students in over 230 schools attended the off-campus strike rally. On the same day, Reuters disclosed a Carrie Lam’s recording that she would resign if she could choose, but Carrie Lam responded that she had not resigned.

Photo taken by Deacon Lui

On 4 September, Carrie Lam proposed four actions to respond to the five major demands, and would withdraw the Extradition Law Amendment Bill from the formal motion and open dialogue with the public. Since the four other demands such as the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry have not been met, Citizen’s Press Conference responded immediately to not accept it.

On 6 September, hundreds of citizens requested MTR to disclose CCTV footage, and then clashes broke out at Prince Edward and Mongkok stations. On the next day, another conflict took place in Prince Edward station, and a police officer applied pepper spray to reporters.

On 8 September, netizens initiated a petition and urged the United States to pressure the central government through the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The crowd once occupied Garden Road. After the rally, protesters adopted guerrilla tactics in multiple districts, destroying several MTR stations and setting fire outside stations.

Photo from internet

By 9 September, protesters had gathered outside Mongkok Police Station for ten consecutive nights, demanding release of those arrested for participating in the movement and the disclosure of CCTV of the 831 Prince Edward attack.

From 9 to 13 September, many shopping malls and parks gathered crowds singing anti-extradition bill songs such as "Glory to Hong Kong".

Philosophy Behind The Appeal

The primary objective of protests at the beginning was the Extradition Law Amendment Bill, featuring the main slogan "Anti-Extradition". Subsequently, Civil Human Rights Front and protesters proposed a set of five major demands, namely a complete "withdrawal" of the amendment bill, a retrieval of the "riot" classification, the release of the arrested persons and the withdrawal of their charges, the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the suspected abuse of force by the police, and the resign of Chief Executive Carrie Lam. After the occupation of Legislative Council, protesters changed the demand for Carrie Lam to step down to "dual suffrage" for the Legislative Council and Chief Executive and it became a turning point in the movement. Protesters hence expanded the movement into a series of political and social discontent campaigns, and the focus of the movement was then shifted to the abuses of force by the police.

Five major demands:

1. Full withdrawal of the extradition bill
2. Retracting the classification of protests as “riots”
3. Amnesty for arrested protesters and a promise not to pursue them afterwards
4. An independent commission of inquiry into alleged police abuse of power
5. Implementation of dual universal suffrage, meaning for both the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive

During the movement, protesters learned from the lessons of the unsuccessful “Umbrella Revolution” in 2014 and managed to gain support of the public by influencing their daily life through direct action. Apart from traditional rally and march activities organised by Civil Human Rights Front, most of the activities were spontaneous actions without leaders and organisations representing the mass public. This movement model was also called “leaderless”. Under no leadership and no unified organisation, protesters called for various protests through online platforms, nonetheless this model also made it difficult for the government to determine targets of any dialogue. Protesters also quoted Hong Kong martial arts idol Bruce Lee's famous phrase "Be water" to motivate each other.  And with tremendous changes in the identity of Hong Kong people, the movement brought about slogans such as "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times".

Subsequent demonstrations and protests have almost become Hong Kong's weekly normal activities, often evolving from a peaceful demonstration at the beginning to a fierce police-civilian conflict, featuring weapons such as pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and beanbag rounds. As protest strategy escalated, positions became extreme, and the challenge began to be directed to the government of the People’s Republic of China. Violent clashes between protesters and the police continued to occur. In July, the occupation of the Legislative Council triggered differences among protesters. The police and protesters clashed in a fierce confrontation, making the society worried that protests had become dangerous. At the same time, a "non-cooperative movement" mainly against MTR also caused disputes. On 6 August, protesters first launched a Citizen’s Press Conference.

Mode of Actions

Protesters mainly disseminated information about protests and other civil disobedience activities through LIHKG discussion forum, Telegram, social media, and word of mouth. Both protesters and the police considered facial recognition and identity as a tool.  The government tried to track the leader of the movement by these. Many protesters learn to avoid being held accountable by the police by equipping themselves with helmets, goggles, masks to cover their faces, or sprayed paint to block the camera's lens. With restrictions of Taobao and Jingdong, protesters could only buy protest equipment from places outside mainland China. Protesters also used laser pens commonly used in teaching and stargazing to protect themselves. The police accused it as a "weapon" that once became the focus of the controversy.

"Lennon Wall" for posting slogans and post-it notes emerged in various districts. People from different walks of life also joined in related actions such as relay hunger strike, hug passers-by, mini-screening. Protesters developed many popular culture, slogans and artistic creations.  They paid tribute to Japanese animation film tradition, adopted many slogans and figure.  They shared the Broadway musical "Les Miserables" theme song "Can you hear the people sing?". Pepe frog also became a symbol of protest. Some netizens initiated crowdfunding to advertise in newspapers in various countries. Some netizens also opened a special page to promote the use of "Elderly Posts". While increasing number of Hong Kong Christians participated in the movement, as the police found it more difficult to disperse religious gatherings, some protesters suggested singing the Christian hymn "Singing Hallelujah" as the theme song of the demonstration.

Some protesters as high school or college students believed that the protests were the "final battle" of superficial autonomy obtained from the government of the People's Republic of China. There was participation from the middle class as well. According to on-site surveys, the movement is dominated by young people, most of whom are from the age group 20 to 30, with a majority of male. Education level of participants was generally high, with 80% in university or tertiary institutes. Most of them categorised themselves as middle class or lower class. Moderate democrats have a high proportion in the movement. Nearly half of participants had been involved in the umbrella revolution, while some participated in social movements for the first time. As of 5 September, eight people died as a result of suicide in the movement.

Government And Political Parties

The Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu, and the Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, have apologised for the social dispute arising from the Extradition Law Amendment Bill. The movement was seen as the most serious political crisis since the return of Hong Kong in 1997. It was reported that Carrie Lam had tendered her resignation several times. The suspension of the extradition amendment bill was considered to be the biggest political concession since Xi Jinping became the top leader. During the period, the Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung expressed saddness by several suicide cases, but his apology speech brought about the police’s resentment. The Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po warned that clashes and strikes associated with protests eroded economic growth and the risk of economic recession had gradually increased. According to a public opinion survey conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong in June, the Chief Executive and the three secretaries scored the lowest since the return to China.

After being occupied by protesters, the Legislative Council took earlier summer recess for dismissing all scheduled council meetings in the year. Pan-democrats believe that Carrie Lam’s reluctance to make concessions had led to continued protests and social instability, and urged the government to respond to citizens’ demands, while not condemning the demonstrators’ acts as excessively violent.  The pro-establishment camp members, on the other hand, accepted Carrie Lam’s apology and believed that protesters’ escalation actions affected citizen’s livelihood and supported police’s enforcement. At the beginning, a number of pro-establishment camp members and members of the Executive Council proposed to postpone the extradition law amendment bill. Later, some members of the pro-establishment camp did not object to withdrawal. A number of members of the Executive Council, the pro-establishment camp and pro-democracy representatives believed that "dialogue" and suspension of the second reading of the draft National Anthem Law was needed to solve the problem.

In the meantime, pan-democrats criticized some part of the central government's remarks as misjudging the situation and "unfair labelling".  The pro-establishment camp, on the other hand, believed that the relevant speech was in line with social expectations. The Hong Kong police had been struggling to respond to demonstrators' changing strategies. After restructuring and adjusting, they said they could handle the situation. On 24 July, the heads of five disciplined forces in Hong Kong issued a statement condemning the violence and supporting the government in effective administration according to law. On 9 August, the Hong Kong Police reemployed the retired Deputy Commissioner of Police Alan Lau Yip-shing to handle "large-scale public events". MTR switched to tougher measures in treating protesters after MTR was accused by People’s Daily in the dispatch of special trains to transport demonstrators.  The closings of stations generated dissatisfaction among citizens.

Business Community

Although rallies and marches did not affect the financial system, some business people worried about the future development of Hong Kong and the more aggressive strategies adopted by the protests. The Real Estate Developer Association of Hong Kong condemned escalation of violence and hoped to restore peace and the rule of law as soon as possible. The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce requested the withdrawal of the extradition law amendment bill, urging the Government to independently review a series of incidents, find out reasons for escalation, and hold accountability of incompetent officials. As protests continued and the Yuen Long attack occurred, Apple Stores, other retail stores and banks were all closed ahead of schedule due to concerns about the spread of conflicts.

On 29 July, the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong warned that the escalation of violence would make Hong Kong a "high-risk place" and urged action to restore business confidence. On 9 August, the Bank of China (Hong Kong) advertised that Hong Kong residents should "stop violence and restore order." On 13 August, Cathay Pacific’s parent company, the Taikoo Group, issued a statement in support of Carrie Lam’s government and the police. On 15 August, the Hong Kong government introduced a 19.1 billion public welfare measure. The business sector and pro-establishment camp believed that this measure could help businesses and the public. The Democratic Party criticised it as ineffective measures. The movement also prompted Western companies in Hong Kong to initiate employee distant work plans.

In addition, Hong Kong business elites issued statements calling for calmness. On 16 August,  Li Ka-shing, the richest man in Hong Kong, publicised his comments about the situation for the first time. He once again quoted a Chinese poem "How can you bear picking Huangtai melon again, again and again?" and called for the cessation of violence. On 18 August, Cathay Pacific reiterated its condemnation of illegal activities and violence.  The airline conducted an investigation of a public letter written by Cathay Pacific employees to Hong Kong people and reminded employees that abuse of social media might violate regulations of the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Its dealing with employees involved in protests raised concerns and anxieties. On 22 August, large banks HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank published full-page advertisements in a number of newspapers in Hong Kong, opposing violence and calling for peaceful resolution of current differences and crises in order to maintain Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre.

Civil Society

On 13 June, reporters attending a press conference held by the police deliberately wore helmets to protest that reporters had been pushed and driven. Later, a number of former officials and members of the legislative councillors issued a joint statement named "People who love and serve Hong Kong" and called on the accountable officials to advise Carrie Lam. On 23 June, 32 former officials and councillors sent a letter to Carrie Lam, urging for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive investigation. Six major religious leaders in Hong Kong issued a statement calling for an apology from Carrie Lam and hoped that the society will stop opposing. After the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Student Union and the Chinese University of Hong Kong Student Union refused to meet with Carrie Lam, student unions of eight universities and colleges proposed two conditions for dialogue.

In mid-June, a number of Hong Kong social workers set up "on-site social workers" with division of labour. Some members brokered between the police and protesters. At the same time, most Hong Kong performing artists chose to remain silent, and a few supporters were prohibited from entering the Chinese mainland market. On 8 July, Hong Kong singer Denise Ho Wan-see spoke at the UN Human Rights Council and was refuted by the representative of the People’s Republic of China. According to a public survey conducted by Ming Pao from 17 to 20 June, more than 70% of respondents believed that the extradition law amendment bill should be withdrawn, the classification of riot should be retracted, and the use of police force should be investigated. In a public opinion survey conducted by Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute in late July, 79% of the respondents supported the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry.

The police’s excessive use of force against protesters also became the focus of public opinion and caused public outrage. Protesters accused the police of abuse of power. Civil Human Rights Front described it as implementation of "Chinese-style repression." The government and the police described the demonstrators as "thugs." John Lee Ka-chiu said that lives of police officers on the scene were threatened. According to a public survey conducted by Ming Pao Daily from 7 to 13 August, 67.7% of the respondents believed that the police used excessive force, and 39.5% believed that demonstrators used excessive force, and the figure of those agreed to fight with "non-violence" principle fell sharply to 71.6%.

Central Government

It was initially revealed that the government of the People’s Republic of China once disclosed to the pro-establishment camp that they were very satisfied with the work of Carrie Lam and would not give up the amendment bill. On 2 July, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council accused protesters of attacking the Legislative Council as a "blatant challenge." Afterwards, the central government began to hint that it might intervene in the movement. The Ministry of National Defense stated that the military closely monitored the situation and that the Chinese People's Liberation Army troops in Hong Kong could help "maintain public order". On 29 July, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council held a press conference and expressed their unyielding support for Carrie Lam’s administration and police enforcement. The situation has seriously touched the bottom line of the "one country, two systems" principle, and the most important thing is to "punish violence."

With protests’ jeopardising their control over Hong Kong, the central government repeatedly screamed and pressured the riots. They reiterated their support for Carrie Lam and warned to punish lawbreakers and threatened to use force intervention when the situation worsened. On 7 August, Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, held a special meeting in Shenzhen, saying that the incident featured the characteristics of "colour revolution", and that "stopping the storm and restoring order" is an important task. On 11 August, the Chinese People's Armed Police Force assembled exercises in Shenzhen. On the next day, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council severely condemned a few "thugs" who threw petrol bombs at the police, saying that there was "terrorism" and supported decisive law enforcement.

The government of the People's Republic of China and the official media also demanded that "foreign forces" must stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs. They criticised the US consulates in Hong Kong and Macao as the "black-handed" behind protests, and cautioned against using this as a "game chip". They also accused the British government of "roughly interfering" in Hong Kong affairs and refused to allow access of two US Navy warships. At the same time, some Chinese companies reconsidered their listing plans, and tourists entering mainland China are scrutinised on their social media records and photos in their smartphones. But despite the growing threat of the government of the People’s Republic of China, protesters in Hong Kong continued to hold rally.

International Community

Initially, US President Donald Trump expressed his belief that the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong could resolve the differences in the Extradition Law Amendment Bill. He also labelled the protests as “riots” which had to be handled by China and Hong Kong. The US federal government has told officials to exercise restraint on this issue. Trump then turned to warn not to use violent suppression, otherwise the trade agreement would be affected. He also said that before reaching any trade agreement, protests must be treated "humanely" and urged Xi Jinping to "see the protesters" in person.  Trump also linked the trade agreement with the Hong Kong issue. The US Department of State expressed concern over the assembly of a large armed police force in Shenzhen and urged to protect Hong Kong’s "high degree of autonomy."

In addition, members of the US Congress proposed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would require an annual assessment of the level of Hong Kong’s autonomy as a prerequisite for its special trade status. Officials from the US Consulate General in Hong Kong and Macau also met with Joshua Wong Chi-fung and other activists. When talking about protests in Hong Kong, the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt warned China of “serious consequences” if the People’s Republic of China broke the joint declaration guaranteeing a high level of autonomy for Hong Kong after violent demonstrations by protesters demanding democratic reforms. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasised to Xi Jinping the importance of establishing freedom and openness under the principle of "one country, two systems". The President of the Republic of China, Tsai Ing-wen, twice called for Taiwan to be deeply alert to "one country, two systems."

On 9 June, overseas Hong Kong people spontaneously launched demonstrations or gatherings in 24 cities around the world, including 5,000 people from Australia. By 12 June, nearly 40 cities in the world demonstrated solidarity, among them more than 10,000 people rallied in Taipei. On 24 July, Hong Kong students hosted a "Lennon Wall" event at the University of Queensland in Australia, which then aroused conflicts with destruction by mainland Chinese. The situation in Hong Kong also reinforced Taiwan's concern about the infiltration of "red forces". In Taipei, young people communicated via "Lennon Wall", while a homemade-tea brand became the focus of attention because of its "political correctness." Meanwhile, some overseas Chinese also held rally in major western cities to oppose protests in Hong Kong.

Media Coverage

In the early stage, information about the disputes, protests and occupations related to the Extradition Law Amendment Bill in Hong Kong were rarely available to Chinese in the mainland. Most foreign and Hong Kong media reports were strictly scrutinised. The media coverage in mainland China was limited to the unilateral response from the Hong Kong government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. Only a few social media and self-media articles mentioned the protests. Censorship and misinformation led to an increase in the gap between Hong Kong and mainland China, and many mainland Chinese opposed the protests. As official media began to broadcast protest footage, public anger over the demonstrations was provoked, with a view to weaken protests. Residents in Shenzhen, adjacent to Hong Kong, generally believed that Hong Kong was in a state of turmoil.

Hong Kong’s mainstream broadcasters such as TVB, Cable News and Now TV also had different presentation approaches. Among them, TVB was regarded as a pro-official media and became a target of demonstrators. The situation of surrounding reporters and interview vehicles often occurred on the spot, and some advertisers such as Pocari Sweat also pulled plug on TVB. As Telegram became a main communication channel for demonstrators, the number of its new users in Hong Kong surged and there were more than 20,000 people joining groups. Telegram founder Paul Dulov disclosed they had suffered huge cyber-attack from mainland China. Moreover, an online forum in mainland China “D8” advocated to bypass China’s firewall by VPN to post numerous criticisms on Facebook for page-washing, and yet some member identities were exposed to public for lack of protection due to real-name system.

Hong Kong people began to accuse the police as "triad society" and "knowingly violate the law" in protests, while mainland Chinese actively supported the police. In the course of Hong Kong protests and US-China trade war, the government of the People's Republic of China was accused of conducting information warfare by condemning protests abroad via many active Sina Weibo and WeChat accounts. On 19 August, Twitter and Facebook blocked a large number of "fake news" accounts, suspecting that the country was using false information to disrupt protests, as part of an officially led information war. Since then, Google removed 210 YouTube channels spreading false news about the protests, for these channels synergised in releasing information.

Impacts on Economy And Stock Market

As affected by large-scale protests, the political situation and US-China trade war, Hong Kong's economy was hit hard.  The economic growth slowed down, the stock market slumped, liquidity was tightening, business environment was worsened, and activities of corporations were reduced to the lowest since the global financial crisis. Hong Kong's second-quarter GDP rose by 0.5% over a year earlier, with its economic growth rate lower than expected. The economic conditions in the first half of the year were the weakest since the recession in 2009. In view of a decline in home sale and purchase agreement and property price index, several developers postponed land tendering or changed their deployment of bidding land. The overall decline in retail sales also deteriorated. The July data was down by 11.4% from 2018, and most retailers' sales in August fell by more than 50%. At the same time, vacancy rate in offices in Central has soared, whereas the residential property market had little impact.

As social unrest grew and its associated impacts expanded, stock prices of a number of listed companies were buffeted. The second-hand property market experienced gradual price reductions. Bank valuations tended to be prudent. At least four foreign financial institutions expressed concerns that the movement would weaken market sentiment. While Fitch Ratings report for Hong Kong remained at "stable", it stated that social unrest would weaken government’s regulation. Due to escalation of Hong Kong’s protests, the collapse of Argentine peso and its political upheaval, as well as the tensions in global trade, investors were uneasy and more risk averse.  There were also signs of a decline in Taiwan’s stock market, Asian stock markets and the global stock markets. On 4 September, with the government's withdrawal of Extradition Law Amendment Bill, the Hang Seng Index rose by more than 1,100 points, recording the largest increase in four years. Real estate stocks also rebounded, leading to a rebound in China’s, European and American stock markets.

International Credit Ratings

On 6 September, international rating agency Fitch had downgraded its credit rating for Hong Kong for the first time, from AA+ to AA, in response to demonstrations in Hong Kong.

On 16 September, another international credit rating agency Moody's lowered the Hong Kong rating outlook from "stable" to "negative", but maintained the Hong Kong credit rating as AA2. Moody's pointed out that the risk of erosion of Hong Kong's institutional advantage is rising.

Moody's explained the reason for lowering the rating outlook was ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong.  It revealed that the risk of erosion of Hong Kong's strength was rising; government and policy efficiency was lower than previously estimated; Hong Kong's credit base was undermined; the attraction of Hong Kong as a trade and financial hub was weakening. The reason for maintaining credit rating for Hong Kong was that Moody's still recognised Hong Kong's finances, government's low debt burden, and its sufficient financial and foreign exchange reserves to cope with any long-term downturn.

Other Aspects

With protests and conflicts in various districts of Hong Kong, the social atmosphere continued to be tense. 31 countries, including Australia and the US, issued or raised the level of travel warnings in response to escalation of the situation, resulting in a decline in tourist visits to Hong Kong. As the Hong Kong International Airport was closed due to protests, international airlines rescheduled flights for a large number of passengers, and the Civil Aviation Administration of China also deployed accordingly. Subsequently, Hong Kong Airport Authority obtained an interim injunction issued by the court to prohibit interference with normal operation of the airport.  Control regulations were implemented at passenger terminals for entry and exit of passengers with airtickets only. Security measures were also strengthened.

In the meantime, Hong Kong’s hotels also experienced slump in bookings. Immigration agencies noted that Hong Kong people, taking into consideration the intensifying social conflicts and unclear prospects, showed rising interests in seeking advice for immigration or transferring wealth elsewhere. The Registration and Electoral Office disclosed that more than 350,000 new voters registered, setting the highest record since Hong Kong's return. According to a survey conducted in June and July 2019 by Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong, the point prevalence of probable depression rose to 9.1%, marking a 10-year high.

Anti-Extradition Protest 100-Day Record
Photography: Kim Kam / iCompass
Editor: Yau Yau / iCompass
Translation: Estella Tsui

Taken on 1.7.2019

Taken on 27.7.2019

Taken on 3.8.2019

Taken on 4.8.2019

"Anti-Extradition Protest Photo Gallery"
Photos exhibition by Hong Kong photographer Kim Kam


© iCompass 所有內容嚴禁以任何方式轉載
© iCompass 所有內容嚴禁以任何方式轉載
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