Just the Facts

Five Facts on the Hong Kong Protests

By No Labels
July 10, 2019 | Blog

Recently, Hong Kong has been experiencing mass protests. These are the facts.

Hong Kong has operated semi-autonomously from mainland China since it was granted independence from Britain in 1997. 

China agreed to a “one country, two systems” setup that allowed Hong Kong a degree of autonomy and a series of protections not enjoyed on the Chinese mainland[1]. The agreement is set to last 50 years from adoption, and the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s version of a constitution – states that the ultimate goal is a democratically elected chief executive. 

The Chinese government promised direct elections for chief executive in Hong Kong by 2017. It has yet to happen. 

In August 2014, China’s legislative committee determined that Hong Kong voters would only be able to choose from a list of 2-3 candidates pre-selected by a pro-Beijing election committee[2]. Hong Kong then presented a reform package based on the Chinese decision, which was derided and rejected by pro-democracy legislators as a “fake democracy” reform package.

After the “fake democracy” reform package proposed in 2014, protestors took to the streets in what became known as the Umbrella Movement. 

Demonstrators occupied the streets for almost three months in protest of what they viewed as China trying to placate Hong Kong with “fake democracy”[3]. Protestors used umbrellas as shields from tear gas and pepper spray fired by police officers, which is why the protests were dubbed the Umbrella Movement[4].



In May 2019, protests broke out in Hong Kong over a proposed extradition bill. The bill would make it easier for people to be extradited to mainland China for various crimes. 

The Hong Kong government has tabled the bill, but has not withdrawn it completely. Hong Kong residents are concerned that those extradited would not receive a fair trial in China, and that people would be extradited for political reasons[5]. The protests against the bill continued through June and into July. 

July 1 marked the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997. Demonstrators annually march in peaceful protest, but a group of demonstrators turned violent in 2019. 

This year, the annual peaceful protests turned violent when a small group of activists broke into the Hong Kong legislature and vandalized parts of the building[6]. The most committed protesters are demanding the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, for Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down, an investigation into police brutality, a retraction of the characterization of protests as riots, and the release of arrested protestors[7]


[1]https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-27921954

[2]Ibid. 

[3]https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/01/world/asia/hong-kong-china-handover.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

[4]https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/29/world/asia/clashes-in-hong-kong.html?module=inline

[5]https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/01/why-hong-kong-has-become-city-protests/?utm_term=.d44a13484e9f

[6]https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/01/world/asia/china-hong-kong-protest.html?action=click&module=RelatedCoverage&pgtype=Article&region=Footer

[7]https://www.cnn.com/asia/live-news/hong-kong-july-1-protests-intl-hnk/index.html

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