What exactly is happening in Hong Kong?

As news and images from the protests and rallies make their way around the world, we want to help provide an overview on the ongoing events.

Let’s talk about Hong Kong.

As opinions and conspiracies run rampant like those clashing on the streets of the popular southeastern city, there are many living in North America and around the world who have followed the protests and controversy intently. This particularly hits close to home for many who have relatives and roots in Hong Kong and China.

But for those still catching up to speed with the issues that have encompassed Hong Kong for the last two months and more, we want to help provide an overview on this ongoing political event.

While this post won’t completely capture every incident and detail from the recent riots and reactions, the hope is to offer enough relevant resources — rather than opinions — to understand the timeline and impact of the Hong Kong demonstrations.

In August, Cold Tea Collective will gather varying perspectives from North American Asian millennials about these events — and how, if so, it affects them and those around them.

Photo credit: Unsplash / Joseph Chan

In early June, the protests were heightened with the introduction of the extradition bill — which sparked a fear that, if passed, it would allow “the Chinese to enter Hong Kong at will and take suspected lawbreakers to the mainland on charges that could be trumped-up in some cases. Once in China, the suspects could face human rights abuses,” according to International Business Times

Since then, it has spun into a larger movement focused on the future of Hong Kong autonomy and democrative reform.

For a timeline with key dates — from February to July 2019 —  regarding the extradition bill and lead up to the protests: READ MORE HERE 

Depending on the source, the number of Hongkongers who have taken to the streets on different occasions to rally against the bill and government have totalled anywhere from one to three million people — in a city with a population of 7.4 million.

Over the weeks of marches and clashes, many incidents have rose to the forefront, including an apology by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, the storming of the legislature by a small group of protestors, the violent attacks by triad members on civilians and protesters in Yuen Long, the fallout from that incident, and the protest at the Hong Kong international airport by flight attendants and airport staff. 

As well, the impact on the economy and businesses is becoming a large concern, while the personal toll mounts for those around the world — including clashes between pro-Hong Kong and pro-Beijing students in Australia.


Meanwhile, China has condemned the protests in Hong Kong, adding that it has caused “serious damage to the rule of law.” They also view the incidents as undermining the authority of the central government and the policy of “one country, two systems,” a reference to the formula that grants Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years — starting from its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

At their first press conference on Hong Kong since the handover from Britain, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) addressed the civil unrest by reiterating that a return to law and order should be “the most pressing priority” and urged the Hong Kong public to oppose the use of violence. 

On the other side, pro-democracy activists from various sectors issued five demands of their “manifesto”:

  • A complete withdrawal of the extradition bill
  • The withdrawal of the characterization of the June 12 protests as a “riot”
  • The unconditional release and the dropping of charges against anti-extradition protesters
  • The formation of an independent commission of inquiry into police use of force
  • The dissolving Of the Legislative council and implementation of universal suffrage — direct voting rights for all Hong Kong residents

Here are more resources to stay informed on Hong Kong:

Why are there protests in Hong Kong? All the context you need / BBC
Three potential outcomes in Hong Kong / CNBC
Hong Kong police strain under pressure to solve political crisis / Bloomberg

Police and protesters clash throughout Hong Kong on third day of unrest / Guardian

A visual investigation on the Yuen Long incident / NY Times

Long read
Why Hong Kong’s angry and disillusioned youth are making their voices heard / SCMP

22 mins – A story on Hong Kong and 200-year-long history of China and with the West / NPR

A history of Hong Kong Protests: riots, rallies and brollies / SCMP
Six films to watch to understand what’s happening in Hong Kong / Quartz  
What you need to know about Hong Kong triads / Inkstone

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