2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests

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2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests
March–June, July, August
June9protestTreefong01.jpg June16protestTreefong15.jpg
Millions of protesters marching in white on 9 June (top) and in black 16 June (bottom).
Date31 March 2019 – ongoing
(4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days)
Various districts of Hong Kong and dozens of other cities abroad
Caused by
  • Complete withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill from the legislative process (as opposed to suspension)
  • 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[2]
MethodsOccupations, sit-ins, civil disobedience, mobile street protests, flash mobs, Black Blocs, Blockade, Internet activism, hacktivism, mass strikes, protest art (Lennon Walls), hunger strikes, petitions, boycotts, advertisements
  • Extradition bill indefinitely suspended on 15 June
  • Chief Executive Lam offers a limited public apology on 16 June for failing to properly communicate the bill's purpose and not holding public consultations
  • Lam declares "The bill is dead" on 9 July
  • Police partially retracts characterisation of protests as "riots"[3]
Parties to the civil conflict

(no centralised authority)

Lead figures
(no centralised leadership)
Injuries and arrests
Death(s)5 (all suicides)[7][8][9][10][11]
Injuries2,100+ (as of 15 August 2019)[6]
Arrested748 (as of 16 August 2019)[12]
2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests
Traditional Chinese反逃犯條例修訂運動
Simplified Chinese反逃犯条例修订运动
Anti-repatriation protests
Traditional Chinese反送中運動
Simplified Chinese反送中运动

The 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests are a series of demonstrations in Hong Kong against an extradition bill proposed by the government of Hong Kong.[13] If enacted, the bill would allow local authorities to detain and extradite people who are wanted in territories that Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with, including mainland China and Taiwan.[14] Some fear the bill would place Hong Kongers and visitors under mainland Chinese jurisdiction, undermining the autonomy of the region and citizens' rights.[15][16][17][18]

Demonstrations against the bill began in March and April, but escalated in June.[19][20] Hundreds of thousands of people marched in protests of the bill on 9 June.[21] Protests on 12 June, the day the bill was scheduled to a second reading in the Legislative Council, marked a sharp escalation in violence. Riot police deployed tear gas and rubber bullets against demonstrators.[22] Subsequently, investigations into police behaviour and greater accountability for their actions became part of protestor demands.[23][24] A larger march occurred on 16 June.[25]

On 1 July, hundreds of thousands of people participated in the annual July marches.[26] A portion of these demonstrators split from the march and broke into the Legislative Council Complex, vandalising central government symbols.[27]

Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended the extradition bill on 15 June,[28] saying it was "dead" on 9 July, but stopped short of a full withdrawal.[29][30] Executive Council members Regina Ip and Bernard Charnwut Chan said that the government does not intend to make further concessions.[31]

Protests continued through the summer, escalating into increasingly violent confrontations, between police, activists, pro-Beijing triad members, and local residents in over 20 different neighbourhoods throughout the region.[32] 21 July marked the infamous Yuen Long mob attacks against protesters and bystanders.

As demonstrations continue, protestors are calling for an independent inquiry on police brutality, the release of arrested protesters, a retraction of the official characterisation of the protests as "riots", and direct elections to choose Legislative Council members and the Chief Executive.[31]



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 a 2018 homicide involving a Hong Kong couple in Taiwan. Hong Kong does not have an extradition treaty with Taiwan, and negotiating one would be problematic since the government of China does not recognise the sovereignty of Taiwan. To resolve this issue, the Hong Kong government proposed an amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Cap. 503) and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance (Cap. 525) that would 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.[18] This included extradition to 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 city's jurisdiction would merge with mainland Chinese laws administered by the Communist Party, thereby eroding the "one country, two systems" principle established since the 1997 handover. Opponents of the current bill urged the Hong Kong government to establish an extradition arrangement solely with Taiwan, and to sunset the arrangement immediately after the surrender of the suspect.[18][33]


Protestors initially only demanded the withdrawal of the extradition bill. Following an escalation in police tactical response against demonstrators on 12 June and the bill's suspension on 15 June, the objective of the protestors has been to achieve these five demands:[34]

Demand Rationale
Complete withdrawal of the extradition bill from the legislative process Although the bill was suspended indefinitely on 15 June, debate on it may be quickly restarted. Currently, the bill is "pending resumption of second reading" in the Legislative Council. Pro-establishment legislators, including Ann Chiang, have indicated that the legislative process on the bill could be resumed after current protests end.
Retraction of the "riot" characterisation The government had originally used the word "riot" to describe 12 June protest. Later the description was amended to say there were some protesters who rioted. However protesters contest the existence of acts of rioting during the 12 June protest.
Release and exoneration of arrested protesters Protesters consider the arrests to be politically motivated; they question the legitimacy of policemen arresting protesters at hospitals using their confidential medical data in breach of patient privacy.
Establishment of an independent commission of inquiry into police conduct and use of force during the protests Civic groups felt that the level of violence used by the police on 12 June, specifically those against protesters who were not committing any offences when they were set upon, was unjustified; Police performing stop-and-search to numerous passers-by near the protest site without probable cause was also considered abusive.[35] Some officers' failure to display or show their police identification number or warrant card despite being required to do so by the Police General Orders is seen to be a breakdown of accountability.[36] The existing watchdog lacks independence, and its functioning relies on police cooperation.
Resignation of Carrie Lam and the implementation of universal suffrage for Legislative Council and Chief Executive elections[37] Currently, the Chief Executive is selected by a 1,200-member Election Committee and 30 of the 70 Legislative Council seats, known as Functional constituency are filled by limited electorates that represent different sectors of the economy.


March – June 2019: Early stage[edit]

Civil Human Rights Front, a platform for 50 pro-democracy groups, launched two protest marches against the bill on 31 March and 28 April. For the second protest, organisers claimed 130,000 participants took part in the march, the highest since the 1 July protest in 2014.[19] The issue gained more attention when the pan-democratic Legislative Councilors launched a filibuster campaign against the extradition bill, which led Secretary of Security John Lee to announce that the government would resume the second reading of the bill in a full Legislative Council meeting on 12 June, bypassing the usual practice of scrutinising the bill in the Bills Committee.[38] The government's hard stance on passing the controversial extradition bill, with Carrie Lam calling the opposite camp "talking trash", and the Taiwan government rejecting HKSAR's plan for extradition, also attracted significant media attention.[39]

To oppose the second reading of the bill, which is set to be held on 12 June, the CHRF launched their third protest from Victoria Park to the Legislative Council in Admiralty on 9 June. It was the largest protests ever held in Hong Kong, as the organisers claimed that 1.03 million people, a record-breaking number, attended the rally.[40] Despite this, Carrie Lam insisted the second reading debate on the bill would resume on 12 June,[41] causing several student groups and Demosistō to stage a sit-in outside the Legislative Council Complex, ultimately leading to intense clashes between police officers and protesters, who retreated to Wan Chai.[42]

Following the 9 June protests, a general strike was called on 12 June, which was answered by over 100 employers.[43] Protesters also attempted to charge the Legislative Council building. Riot police dispersed the protesters by firing tear gas, beanbag rounds and rubber bullets.[44] Police Commissioner Stephen Lo declared the clashes a "riot",[45] though the police itself was also heavily condemned for using excessive force, including firing tear gas at peaceful protesters next to CITIC Tower, causing them to be trapped inside the building. The unlawful use of police batons and tear gas,[46] the lack of identifying numbers on police officers,[47] suspected assaults on journalists,[48] and the subsequent hospital arrests were criticised.[49] Following the clashes on 12 June, protesters began asking for an independent inquiry on police brutality and urging the government to retract the "riot" characterisation. 2,000 protesters from religious groups held a vigil outside the government headquarters, praying and singing hymns including "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord", which became the protest's unofficial anthem.[50]

The protest on 16 June attracted 2 million people according to the organisers.

On 15 June, Carrie Lam announced that the bill has been suspended, though the pan-democratic camp demanded a full withdrawal of the bill.[51] A 35-year old man also committed suicide to protest Lam's decision that day.[52] For the protest held on 16 June, the CHRF claimed the final turnout at "almost 2 million plus 1 citizens", which set the record of the largest protest in Hong Kong history. Following the huge protest, Carrie Lam apologized to Hong Kong citizens but refused to resign or withdraw the bill.[53]

Protesters began to besiege the Police Headquarters on Arsenal Street on 21 and 24 June. The police took no action to disperse the protesters.[54][55] Protesters also began to call for international support, as they visited the consulates of countries expected to attend the G20 Osaka summit and assembled at Edinburgh Place at night, holding signs that read "Democracy now" and "Free Hong Kong".[56][57]

July 2019: Protests "blossoming everywhere"[edit]

The situation of the Conference Room in LegCo after the protesters stormed the Legislative Council Complex.

CHRF held the annual march on 1 July and claimed a record turnout of 550,000.[58] The protest was largely peaceful. At night, protesters stormed the Legislative Council Complex, but the police took little action to stop them. Protesters smashed furniture, defaced the Hong Kong emblem, and presented a new manifesto with ten points.[59][60] Some of the protesters who stormed the LegCo Complex were motivated by the desperation stemmed from several more cases of suicides since 15 June.[61] Carrie Lam condemned the protesters who stormed the council.[62][63]

Following the 1 July protest, protests began to "blossom everywhere", with protests being held in different areas in Hong Kong, both protesting against the anti-extradition bill and against some of the local issues, including the "daima" issue in Tuen Mun Park and the parallel traders issue in Sheung Shui.[64][65] Lennon Walls were also set up in different neighbourhoods and became a source of conflict between pro-Beijing citizens and supporters of the protests. The first anti-extradition protest in Kowloon was held on 7 July, where protesters marched from Tsim Sha Tsui to West Kowloon station.[66] Clashes occurred later in Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok. The police's failure to display their warrant cards drew criticism.[67] On 9 July, Carrie Lam declared that "the bill is dead", though her choice of words was ambiguous and non legally binding.[68]

The first anti-extradition protest in the New Territories was held in Sha Tin on 14 July. The protest was largely peaceful, though some protesters began to set up barricades and threw objects at the police after the protest.[69] Protesters later moved to New Town Plaza and attempted to leave via Sha Tin station, though they were stopped by riot police who blocked them.[70] Protesters then became trapped inside the Plaza, and intense clashes between protesters and police officers occurred inside.[71] Residents unhappy with the incident gathered at New Town Plaza in the following days, questioning security officers why Sun Hung Kai Properties allowed the police to enter the plaza without any proper permit.[72][73]

Attention shifted back to Hong Kong Island when the CHRF held another anti-extradition protest on 21 July. Protesters advanced past the police-mandated endpoint,[74] and some protesters surrounded the Hong Kong Liaison Office and defaced the Chinese national emblem, an act that was condemned by the government.[75] While a standoff between the protesters and the police occurred in Sheung Wan,[76] white-clad groups, suspected to be triad members and allegedly support by pro-Beijing councilor Junius Ho,[77] appeared at Yuen Long station and indiscriminately attacked people inside the station. Yuen Long became a ghost town following the attack.[78]

On 27 July, protesters marched to Yuen Long, despite opposition from rural groups and police's objection. To disperse the protesters, the police fired tear gas in a primarily residential area[79] and the stand-offs between the protesters and the police escalated into violent clashes inside Yuen Long station.[80] On the next day, protesters once again defied the police ban and marched to Sai Wan and Causeway Bay. 49 people were arrested and later charged with rioting.[81] To support the arrestees, protesters besieged the Kwai Chung police station and the Tin Shui Wai police station, where protesters were attacked by fireworks launching out of a moving vehicle.[82][83]

In July, several peaceful protests were held. A group of elderly marched on Hong Kong Island to show their solidarity with the youths.[84] Several hunger strikers also marched to Government House to demand a response from Carrie Lam.[85] On 26 July, thousands of protesters gathered at Hong Kong International Airport and handed out leaflets and pamphlets about the controversy to tourists.[86]

August 2019: Escalation[edit]

Protesters returned to Mong Kok on 3 August, though some protesters did not follow the designated routes and headed to Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui.[87] Protesters moved barricades into the toll plaza of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel in Hung Hom, blocking vehicles.[88] A small group of protesters also threw the Chinese national flag next to the Star Ferry pier into Victoria Harbour.[89] The arrest of protesters in Wong Tai Sin angered the local residents, who clashed with police near the Disciplined Services quarters.[90] The next day, two protests were held, one in Tseung Kwan O and another in Kennedy Town. Clashes between the police and protesters then occurred in various districts in Hong Kong.[91]

Police firing tear gas to disperse protesters near Central Government Complex on 5 August.

5 August saw one of the city's biggest general strikes, which was answered by 350,000 people according to the Confederation of Trade Unions.[92] Over 200 flights were cancelled due to the strike.[93] Some citizens also blocked traffic to stop people from getting to work. Protests and sit-ins were held in seven districts in Hong Kong, including Admiralty, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan, Wong Tai Sin, Mong Kok and Tai Po.[94][95] To disperse the protesters, the police force used more than 800 canisters of tear gas, a record number for Hong Kong.[96] Protesters in North Point and Tsuen Wan were attacked by two groups of stick-wielding men, though some fought back the attackers.[97][98]

From 6–7 August, after the Hong Kong Baptist University Student Union president was arrested in Sham Shui Po for possession of "offensive weapons", which were found to be laser pens, residents nearby besieged the police station[99] and protesters gathered outside Hong Kong Space Museum to shine laser pointers on the wall of the museum.[100]

On 11 August, protesters returned to New Territories for a protest in Tai Po, though they spread to other places in Hong Kong in the evening.[101][102] On the next day, two protests were held, one in Sham Shui Po while another in Eastern District. Protesters in Sham Shui Po later moved to Tsim Sha Tsui, where the police ruptured the right eye of a female first-aider using bean bag rounds,[103] and Kwai Chung, where the police used tear gas indoors.[104] Meanwhile, the protest on Hong Kong Island escalated into violence when undercover police officers were found arresting other protesters in Causeway Bay.[105] Police officers also fired pepper ball rounds within a very close range at protesters in Tai Koo station.[106]

The alleged police brutality on 11 August prompted protesters to stage sit-ins at Hong Kong International Airport from 12 to 14 August, prompting the Airport Authority to cancel numerous flights for at least two days.[107][108][109] On 13 August, protesters at the Airport cornered and assaulted a man suspected of being an undercover police officer and a reporter from Global Times.[110][108][111][112]

Responding to the 11 August incident, a peaceful rally was held in Victoria Park by the CHRF on 18 August to condemn police brutality and reiterate the five core demands. It attracted at least 1.7 million people, who, despite a police ban, marched to Central.[113] An additional estimated of 300,000 protesters marched between Central and Causeway Bay, but could not enter the park due to overcrowding.

Civil servants, teachers, the finance sector, and medical professionals have all voiced support for the anti-extradition movement in this month by holding marches or rallies.[114][115][116][117]

On 21 August, thousands of demonstrators staged a sit-in at the Yuen Long MTR Station to commemorate the 21 July mob attacks and to remember the victims from one month ago. The protesters demanded justice, questioning why none of the arrested suspects involved in the incident had yet been charged.[118][119]

Worldwide solidarity protests[edit]

On 9 June, at least 29 rallies were held in 12 countries with protesters taking to the streets in cities around the world with significant Hong Kong diaspora, including about 4,000 in London, about 3,000 in Sydney and further rallies in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Toronto, Vancouver, Berlin, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Taipei.[120][121] In one of the biggest overseas protests, hundreds of demonstrators made of mostly Hong Kong immigrants filled the streets outside the Chinese consulate-general in Vancouver with yellow umbrellas, referencing the 2014 Occupy protests, and chanted against the extradition law. More than 60 people gathered outside the White House in Washington to protest against the bill.[121]

On 12 June, representatives from 24 Taiwanese civic groups, including Taiwan Association for Human Rights, protested outside Hong Kong's representative office in Taipei, whilst shouting slogans such as "Taiwan supports Hong Kong." In Kaohsiung, around 150 Hong Kong students staged a sit-in protest demanding the Hong Kong government to withdraw the bill.[122] In Adelaide, 150 people protested against the extradition law.[123]

On 16 June, 10,000 Hong Kong students and Taiwanese supporters held a peaceful sit-in at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei to support the protests in Hong Kong.[124][125] In Auckland and Adelaide, around 500 people gathered to demand Chief Executive Lam to withdraw the bill and apologise for her actions.[126] On 17 June, 1,500 people protested outside the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver.[127]

On 23 June, 5,000 people held a rally in Taipei against Hong Kong's extradition bill.[128] On 14 July a "Sing for Hong Kong" event was held in London.[129][130][131] There was a clash between pro-democracy and pro-China supporters at the University of Queensland in Brisbane on 24 July.[132][133] In response to the incident, the Chinese Consul-General in Brisbane, Xu Jie, reportedly praised Chinese students for confronting "anti-China separatist" protesters, prompting the Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne to warn foreign diplomats not to interfere in free speech and protests in Australia.[134][135] This also led to more solidarity protests to occur in Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Darwin and Melbourne.[136]

On 3 August, further solidarity protests occurred in Canadian cities of Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg, Halifax, Ottawa and Calgary.[137][138] On 10 August, around 100 Hong Kongers, Tibetans, Taiwanese, Uygurs, overseas Chinese and other New York residents held a rally outside the Chinese consulate.[139] Over the 16–18 August weekend, solidarity pro-democracy protests were held in London, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Taipei, Berlin, Paris, Boston, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto.[140][141] [142][143][144][145][146]

On 19 August, Macau police briefly detained 7 people on the suspicions that they were taking part in an illegal protest, however they were released after a few hours. This came after Macau Police rejected a request for a silent protest against Hong Kong police to be held at 8pm at Senate Square.[147]


Memorial for Leung still remains near Pacific Place

There were five suicide cases closely attributed to the anti-extradition bill protests. Each person had left a suicide note that deplored the unelected and unresponsive government and the insistence by officials to force through the extradition bill; most of the individuals expressed despondency whilst urging Hongkongers to continue their fight.[148][149][150] One note even stated: "What Hong Kong needs is a revolution."[151][152]

The first person committed suicide on 15 June, when 35-year-old Marco Leung Ling-kit climbed the elevated podium on the rooftop of Pacific Place, a shopping mall in Admiralty at 4:30 pm.[148] Wearing a yellow raincoat with the words "Brutal police are cold-blooded" and "Carrie Lam is killing Hong Kong" in Chinese written on the back, he hung a banner on the scaffolding with several anti-extradition slogans.[153] After a five-hour standoff, during which police officers and Democratic Party legislator Roy Kwong attempted to talk him down, Leung fell to his death, missing an inflatable cushion set up by firefighters.[148][154][155]

A shrine appeared at the scene soon afterward; Ai Weiwei shared the news on his Instagram feed, while Chinese satirist Badiucao honoured the dead man with a cartoon.[155] On Thursday 11 July another vigil was held, in which thousands turned up leaving sunflowers at the memorial site.[156] Artists in Prague have also honoured the event, and painted a memorial on the Lennon Wall in the Czech Republic, depicting a yellow raincoat along with words of well wishes.[157]

Gathering for Lo Hiu-yan at EdUHK. 30 June 2019

A 21-year-old Education University of Hong Kong student, Lo Hiu-yan, jumped to her death from Ka Fuk Estate in Fanling on 29 June.[158][159] She had left two notes written on a stairwell wall with red marker, and uploaded photos of her note to Instagram.[9][149][160] A third suicide occurred the next day when a 29-year-old woman, Zita Wu, jumped from the International Financial Centre.[161][150] On 4 July, a 28-year-old woman only identified by the surname Mak died after jumping off a building in Cheung Sha Wan.[162] A fifth suicide occurred on 22 July, a 26-year-old man identified by the surname Fan died after jumping off the building of Cypress House, Kwong Yuen Estate after an argument with his parents about his political stance. Neighbours of Fan left flowers near the site.[11]

Tactics and methods[edit]

Decentralised leadership[edit]

Unlike the 2014 Hong Kong protests, the democracy movement of 2019 has formed in a generally decentralised manner, and has been described as "impeccably organised" by the Los Angeles Times.[163] The CHRF has a long history of organising social movements and was the organiser of the two massive protests on 9 and 16 June. Demosistō, led by Joshua Wong and the localist groups, called on supporters to participate in marches, rallies and other forms of direct action. However, unlike the 2014 Hong Kong protests, none of these groups have claimed leadership over this movement. Many pro-democracy legislators were present at the protests, but they largely played supporting roles. The logistics of the movement – bringing supplies, setting up medical stations, rapid mass communication – were the result of experience from previous protests.[163] This decentralisation has led to more fluidity but has also made it difficult for officials to locate representatives for negotiations or prosecution.[164][165]

On 1 July, after the protesters had forced their way into the Legislative Council, Wong said the act was intended "to show how the Legislative Council has never represented the voice of the people." He also said there would not have been any rallies or protests had the Hong Kong Legislative Council been democratically elected.[166] However, some protesters believed that the decentralised leadership prompted protests to escalate without proper planning, as evidenced by the storming of the LegCo building.[165]

Professor Francis Lee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong has called this new type of decentralized, leaderless movement, the “open-source” protest model.[167] Through a process of participatory democracy activists are able to vote on tactics and brainstorm next moves in a collaborative process in which everybody has a say.[168] Telegram chat groups and online forums with voting mechanisms have often enabled this type of flexible coordination.[169][170]

Flexible and diverse tactics[edit]

Protesters are reported to have adopted Bruce Lee’s philosophy, to be "formless [and] shapeless, like water."[171] By moving in a mobile and agile fashion to different government offices during the 21 June protests, they aimed to bring additional pressure to bear on the government.[164][172] As the police began to advance, protesters will retreat to avoid being arrested, though they will often show up again later in the same district or reemerge in other places in a short period of time.[173]

Also, the 2014 Hong Kong protests were focused on 3 locations, but in this movement, demonstrations and clashes with Hong Kong Police diversified to over 20 different neighbourhoods spread throughout Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories.[174]

The "Do Not Split" (不割席) principle has helped maintain cohesion throughout the broad political spectrum of the struggle.[175] Embracing a diversity of tactics has allowed participants to engage in different levels of action while respecting the roles that others play. This is in direct contrast to the 2014 Protests, where multiple protest groups wound up criticizing each other. Hong Kong political commentator Lewis Lau said, " 'Do Not Split' serves as a bridge ... by promoting mutual respect for diverging views within the protest movement."[175] Minimisation of internal conflict is key to achieving broader goals; a common phrase that has served as a reminder is "Preserve yourself and the collective; no division."[176] Protesters also developed a set of hand signs to aid communications.[177]

Solidarity between protestors and engagement with the "Do Not Split" praxis was evidenced by the two mothers' sit-in demonstrations of 14 June and 5 July and the silver-haired protest on 17 July.[178] Tens of thousands attended the rallies, in support of the protest actions of the younger generation, while standing firm together in opposition to police brutality, Carrie Lam, and the undemocratic interventionism of the mainland Chinese government.[179][180][181]

Black bloc and group defenses[edit]

During street protests, black bloc methods have enhanced anonymity and privacy, enabling demonstrators to “be water” and function more effectively as a group. Participants in demonstrations are increasingly dressed in black, and wear hard hats and gloves. To resist police surveillance and protect against chemical weapons such as tear gas and pepper spray, face masks and goggles are also popular attire, and some have even upgraded to gas masks.[182][183][184][185]

Protesters have also adopted different roles during demonstrations. Peaceful protesters chanted slogans and passed supplies, while frontliners snuffed out tear gas and led the charge. Protesters have used laser pointers to distract the police, sprayed paint on surveillance cameras, and unfurled umbrellas to protect and conceal the identities of the group in action and to avoid facial recognition.[186] When protesters departed via MTR, they often made donation piles of extra changes of clothes for other activists, and also left money to purchase single-use tickets and avoid tracking via Octopus card.[185]

As protests continued to escalate and the police began to use more advanced riot control tools, activists upgraded their makeshift gears from using surfboards as shields to using metal street signs, iron rods, bricks, and eggs to throw. The 2014 Ukrainian Revolution was commonly described as an inspiration for Hong Kong protesters.[187]

A study about the on-going protests by researchers from several Hong Kong universities found that "most of the participants agreed that 'the maximum impact could only be achieved when peaceful assembly and confrontational actions work together.'"[188]

Online activism[edit]

Protesters also took to the Internet to exchange information and ideas. Netizens used the popular online forum LIHKG to gain traction for protests and brainstorm ideas.[189][190] These included disrupting MTR services, gathering for vigils, organising "picnics" (a term used to avoid surveillance), and making anti-extradition bill memes that appeal to conservative values so that Hong Kong elderly would better understand the anti-extradition rationale.[163] The Pepe the Frog Internet meme has been widely used as a symbol of liberty and resistance, and has gained international media attention.[191][192]

Protesters have been using Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, to communicate in order to conceal identities and prevent tracking by the Chinese government and Hong Kong Police Force.[193] The app's servers were under denial-of-service attacks on 12 June. The app's founder Pavel Durov identified the origin of the attack as China,[194][195][196] and stated that it "coincided in time with protests in Hong Kong."[197]

Some have accused protesters of "doxxing" members of the police force: Police claimed to have found a website run by the hacktivist group Anonymous that disclosed personal data of more than 600 officers.[198] In early July, the police arrested eight individuals in connection to the alleged doxxing.[199][200] In separate incidents, police targeted activists for their involvement in Telegram chat groups: during June and July, two individuals were arrested for conspiracy, under accusations of administering chat groups, and told that investigations would continue. However, neither has been charged with a crime.[201][202]

Adapted songs[edit]

A group of Christians singing "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord" near the Central Government Complex.

A 1974 Christian hymn called "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord" has become the "unofficial anthem" of the anti-extradition protests as it was heard everywhere at the protest sites. On 11 June, a group of Christians began to sing the four-line-verse simple melody at the Central Government Complex as they held a public prayer meeting through the night before the Legislative Council was as scheduled to begin the second reading the following day. On the morning of 12 June the Christians, led by pastors, stood between the crowd and police to help prevent violence and pray for Hong Kong with the hymn.[203] Under Hong Kong's Public Order Ordinance, religious gatherings are exempt from the definition of a "gathering" or "assembly" therefore more difficult to police.[204][205] The song was sung repeatedly over 10 hours throughout the night and a video of the event quickly became viral online.[203] Hong Kong local ministries, many of whom support underground churches in China, supported the protests. Most Hong Kong churches tend to shy away from political involvement, however many are worried about the effects of the extradition bill on Christians since mainland China does not have religious freedom laws.[206][207]

"Do You Hear the People Sing", the unofficial anthem for the Umbrella Movement in 2014, has also resurfaced as a commonly sung song during the protest.[208][209] The song was also sung by protesters during a friendly football game between Manchester City and Kitchee on 24 July at Hong Kong Stadium to raise foreign awareness regarding the situation in Hong Kong.[210][211]

Patriotic symbols[edit]

Some protesters waved the United States flag to support Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a bill proposed by the US Congress,[212] and waved the Union Jack flag to call for UK support.[213] The Dragon and Lion flag, which was a flag used by Hong Kong during the colonial era, can also be seen during the protests, though its usage was often disputed.[214]

Petition campaigns[edit]

A petition to revoke the U.S. citizenship and visas of the Hong Kong and China officials who support the extradition bill.

From May 2019 onwards, multiple petitions against the Bill from over 200 secondary schools, various industries, professions, and neighbourhoods were created.[215] More than 167,000 students, alumni and teachers from all public universities and one in seven secondary schools in Hong Kong, including St. Francis' Canossian College which Carrie Lam attended, also launched online petitions against the extradition bill in a snowballing campaign.[216] St. Mary's Canossian College and Wah Yan College, Kowloon, which Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng and Secretary for Security John Lee attended, respectively, also joined the campaign.[216] Even the alumni, students and teachers at St. Stephen's College, which the victim in the Taiwan homicide case Poon Hiu-wing attended from Form 1 to Form 3, were unconvinced as they accused the government of using her case as a pretext to force the bill's passage.[217]

Online petitions on We the People and Change.org called for governments in Western countries to respond to the extradition bill and hold the officials who pushed the bill forward accountable and reprehensible by the means of sanctioning and through revoking their citizenship. One petition urged the French government to strip Carrie Lam of her Legion of Honour award.[218]

Former government executives, including Anson Chan, the former Chief Secretary for Administration, issued several open letters to Carrie Lam, urging her to respond to the five core demands raised by protesters.[219] About 230 civil servants from more than 40 government departments, including RTHK, Innovation and Technology Bureau, Fire Services Department, Customs and Excise Department, Immigration Department and the Correctional Services Department also issued a joint statement condemning Lam's administration and demanding key officials involved in the incident, including Lam, John Lee, Teresa Cheng and Stephen Lo to resign while concealing their identities. The civil servants also threatened to launch a labour strike to paralyse the government's operations if the core demands are not met.[220][221]

Advertising campaign[edit]

Anti-extradition bill advertisement placed on page A7 of The New York Times on 28 June 2019.

In June, protesters launched an online crowdfunding campaign to place open letters as full-page ads in major international newspapers before 28 June G20 summit in Osaka, Japan to raise global awareness and appeal for world leaders' intervention on the bill, urging everyone to "ally with [them]" and to "[demand] the preservation of Hong Kong's freedom and autonomy under the Chinese government."[222] The goal to raise HK$3 million was accomplished in less than four hours, and successfully raised HK$5.45 million in less than six hours.[223] The open letter was published by popular international newspapers including The New York Times, The Guardian, Japan Times, The Globe and Mail, Süddeutsche Zeitung, The Chosun Ilbo, Le Monde and the online version of Politico Europe.[224][225] The advertisements were printed in the local languages of the readership for each periodical, and while graphic design and layout varies, most included the slogan and appeal to "Stand with Hong Kong at G20" along with the open letter.[226]

A GoFundMe campaign was started on 11 August 2019 to raise funds for a second advertising campaign. It raised US$1.97 million in two hours with contributions from over 22,500 people. The proceeds were used to again place open letters as full-page ads in 13 major international newspapers including the Globe and Mail, New York Times, Le Monde, El Mundo, and Kyunghyang Shinmun.[227][228] The ads appeared in the newspapers on 17 August 2019.

AirDrop broadcast[edit]

In June and July, protesters in Hong Kong used Apple devices' AirDrop feature to broadcast anti-extradition bill information to in public, such as inside MTR trains, allowing recipients to read about concerns regarding the proposed law, aiming to raise awareness among the residents in Hong Kong.[229][230]

During the 7 July protest in Tsim Sha Tsui, a major tourist district, protesters again used AirDrop to share information regarding protests and concerns about the bill with tourists from mainland China.[231] Some shared QR codes that looked like "free money" from Alipay and WeChat Pay, but actually redirected to information–written in Simplified Chinese–about the on-going democratic movement.[232][233] Because AirDrop creates a direct link between local devices, the technology bypasses mainland China's censorship efforts[233][234] that have distorted and limited information about extradition bill protests.[235][236]

Neighbourhood Lennon Walls[edit]

A tunnel near the Tai Po Market MTR station, dubbed as the "Lennon Tunnel."

The original Lennon Wall has been once again set up in front of the Hong Kong Central Government Offices staircase. During the months of June and July, Lennon Walls covered with colourful post-it note messages for freedom and democracy have "blossomed everywhere" (遍地開花)[237] and appeared throughout the entirety of Hong Kong[238][239][240] and even inside government offices, including RTHK[241] and the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office.[221] According to a crowd-sourced map of Hong Kong, there are over 150 Lennon Walls throughout the region.[242]

Lennon Walls have led to conflicts between pro-democratic and pro-Beijing citizens, some of whom attempted to tear messages off from the walls and physically assaulted pro-democracy activists.[243][244] Police also removed officers' personal information from a wall in Tai Po.[245]

Lennon Walls have also appeared in Toronto, Vancouver, Tokyo, Berlin, London, Melbourne, Manchester, Sydney, Taipei, and Auckland.[246][247][248][249] Messages of solidarity for the Hong Kong democracy movement have also been added to the original Lennon Wall in Prague.[249] On 30 July, a female Hong Kong student was assaulted during a confrontation between pro-democracy and pro-China students while erecting a Lennon Wall at the University of Auckland.[250][251]

Lennon Wall outside of a Yoshinoya fast-food chain, Hong Kong. A protest against their advertisement decisions.


The Communications Authority received approximately 12,000 complaints criticising that TVB's coverage favoured the pro-establishment camp and the CCP.[252] There were accusations that TVB presented an over-simplified narrative with limited information, therefore avoiding more overt censorship methods.[253] In light of this, some businesses, including the Hong Kong branches of Pocari Sweat and Pizza Hut, withdrew their advertisements from TVB, delighting anti-extradition protestors but angering Mainland consumers.[254]

The local franchise of Japanese fast-food chain Yoshinoya was accused of victimising employees opposing the extradition bill and wanting to take time off to join the protests. After an advertisement satirising recent police brutality appeared on the company's Facebook page, the company said it had severed ties with their partnering marketing agency.[255]

After Chinese actress Liu Yifei expressed her support for the Hong Kong police via Sina Weibo, Twitter users, including Hong Kong protesters, called to boycott Disney's upcoming film, Mulan, which stars the actress as the titular character.[256]

Hunger strikers outside Admiralty Centre. 9 July 2019

Hunger strikes[edit]

A group of protesters have been on hunger strike following the 1 July rally in Admiralty. Preacher Roy Chan initiated the action and has been joined by about 10 others, including Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung. They are camped near Harcourt Road in Admiralty, with many signs displayed to inform the public about their goals. At least five people have vowed to continue fasting until the extradition bill is officially withdrawn.[257][258][259]

Non cooperation movements[edit]

Some democracy activists have adopted civil disobedience and direct action tactics. Examples include disruption of government operations, occupation of areas near the Revenue Tower and besieging Police HQ in Wan Chai.[260][261]

In mid-June, protesters disrupted MTR services by blocking train doors and pressing emergency stop buttons in various train stations, delaying services.[262] Demosistō also gathered at Mei Foo station to raise awareness for the issues and requested commuters to help "protect students."[263] Disruption of MTR services continued after the Yuen Long violence on 21 July, with protesters obstructing train services at Admiralty station and requesting that MTR corporation be held accountable for mismanagement. Obstruction of MTR services received mixed responses from other commuters.[264][265]

On 30 July, the non-co-operation movement again targeted MTR service during morning rush-hour.[266] For about three hours, activists disrupted the Kwun Tong line at an interchange station.[267] Due to service outages, MTR provided free bus transport to affected commuters. A train at North Point station on Hong Kong island was also targeted by demonstrators.[268] Rail staff had threatened to strike on 30 July, but railway unions did not officially endorse participation in strike actions.[269]

During 5 August general strike, protesters blocked train doors in various MTR stations. As a result, a large extent of the MTR network was paralyzed. The non-cooperation movement targeted rush-hour periods, thus impeding people from travelling to work, or returning home. The activists involved said their goal was to prevent passengers from reaching work in crucial business districts such as Central, Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok[270] During the strike, a pregnant woman felt unwell and requested aid from paramedics while waiting in the train station for many hours.[271]

On the same day, the movement also struck the roads, where protesters used their vehicles to disrupt traffic including stopping in lanes and slow-driving in roundabouts.[272] Some protesters used various instruments including street-side railings, traffic cones, barricades and rubbish bins to blockade the roads which stopped a number of vehicles from passing through. This practice is very common, and has also occurred at Cross Harbor Tunnel multiple times, preventing traffic flow from travelling through one of the busiest passages in Hong Kong.[273] Reports showed the Hong Kong International Airport was affected by strike actions, resulting in a large number of flight cancellations and delays. Photos show many travelers waiting in the concourse.[270]

Police station blockades[edit]

Starting in late June, it became somewhat standard practice that peaceful marches during the day transformed into more radical direct actions at night, often targeting police stations with street protests, blockades, and vandalism.[274] Many blockades were also solidarity actions in response to harsh policing tactics and recent arrests of democracy activists.[275] Various police stations in Yuen Long, Tin Shui Wai, Ma On Shan, Tseung Kwan O, Kwun Tong, Tsim Sha Tsui and Sham Shui Po as well as the Police HQ were besieged.[276][277] Protesters constructed barricades, vandalised HKPF buildings, hurled bricks and eggs, and painted graffiti slogans on exterior station walls.[278]

Demosisto researcher Jeffrey Ngo explained: "There’s a feeling among many that ... some physical confrontation is the only way" the regime will listen to citizen demands. Failures of previous democracy movements, concerns about corruption, and lack of response from Carrie Lam have led many to conclude that escalation of protest tactics is necessary.[279][280] In early August, The Intercept interviewed a journalist experienced in covering civil unrest and he stated that although the protesters are very aware of possible legal repercussions, "Hong Kongers are losing their fear."[281]

Citizens' press conference[edit]

Citizens' press conference held by protesters. 19 August 2019

A group of protesters held a citizens' press conference, hoping to "broadcast under-represented voices" and their own perspectives to the public. This was a response to daily police press briefings, which they described as "malicious distortions" and "untruth",[282] and that they intended for these press conferences to “act as a counterweight to the government’s monopoly on political discourse.”[283] In the press conferences, they would wear black, put on face masks and safety helmets, and conduct the discussion in both Cantonese and English, along with a sign language interpreter.[284]

These press conferences were coordinated using Telegram and LIHKG, and the speakers stressed that they are not the leaders of the movement but wish to speak for the average protesters. Quartz described that such tactic is a "battlefront" in public relations with the government.[285]

Other movements[edit]

As the momentum of the anti-extradition protests continued to grow, several more protests movements focusing on local issues were held in different regions in Hong Kong.

Central Harbourfront protest (28 June)[edit]

On 28 June, some of the G20 demonstrations also protested against the Hong Kong government's prospective surrender of a strip of land in Central Harbourfront to the People's Liberation Army on 29 June. In light of the protests on 27 June, Au Nok-hin's resolutions and Eddie Chu's proposal to delay the surrendering date were halted as pro-Beijing legislator Christopher Cheung requested an adjournment for debate to shift attention on restoring peace in Hong Kong.[286] Chu and protesters entered the pier at around 11:30 pm. Protesters left the pier at midnight when its jurisdiction was legally turned over to PLA, though a standoff between the protesters and the police continued till 1 am.[287]

Reclaim Tuen Mun (6 July)[edit]

On 6 July, people marched in a protest organised by the Tuen Mun Park Sanitation Concern Group. The protest aimed at condemning mainland Chinese middle-aged women singers and dancers, also known by the nickname "dai ma" (大媽), which literally translates to "big mothers," and the elderly men who gave these women "donations" for the noise disturbance and annoyances they have caused in Tuen Mun Park. Conflicts between the police and the protesters brew as the police escorted a person who allegedly assaulted the marchers away while using pepper spray on the protesters.[64] The organiser claimed that nearly 10,000 people attended the protest.[288]

Reclaim Sheung Shui (13 July)[edit]

A female AFP journalist injured during a protest in Sheung Shui on 13 July 2019.

On 13 July, a protest was organised in Sheung Shui for opposing mainland Chinese parallel trading, with 30,000 attendees claimed by the organiser.[289] It was largely peaceful for the first two hours.

However, as it went on, the organiser and protesters refused to follow the authorised route, which had Sheung Shui Station as the destination. Instead, they marched on Sheung Shui Plaza, occupied some roads and started clashing with the police who accused them of unlawful assembly, triggering an hour-long standoff which lasted until late night. A handful of journalists were maliciously attacked by the police.[290][291]

During the skirmishes, a number of dispensaries were vandalised by the protesters because they were thought to be complicit in the mainland Chinese parallel trading. After the riot police resumed traffic by dispersing the crowd, they chased the crowd onto a footbridge leading to Sheung Shui Station, when a handicapped teenager suddenly jumped off the footbridge for escape, but was rescued jointly by the journalists and police. He was eventually arrested, insulted and ushered into the police van.[292]

Reclaim HKU (13 July)[edit]

On 13 July, about 300 students attended an on-campus protest to denounce Hong Kong University's president and vice-chancellor Zhang Xiang for his statement on 3 July condemning the "violent storming" of the Legislative Council building on 1 July, and to demand retraction of the statement. Zhang later met the students and agreed to create a forum of dialogue with students.[293]

Journalists' silent march (14 July)[edit]

Protester handing their complaint letter to police representative on 14 July.

On 14 July, at 10:30 am, journalists and others in the media industry held a silent march from Harcourt Garden in Admiralty to Police Headquarters in Wan Chai; then on to the Chief Executive Office to protest against police attacks on the press. Journalists at the front of the march held a large banner that read "Stop Police Violence, Defend Press Freedom." They called on the Chief Executive to defend press freedom and enforce the Pledge to Uphold Press Freedom decree, which she signed in 2017.[294]

The rally was jointly organised by Hong Kong Journalists Association, Hong Kong Press Photographers Association, Independent Commentators Association, Journalism Educators for Press Freedom, as well as staff associations of Ming Pao, Next Media and RTHK. It was attended by approximately 1,500 people.[295]

Reclaim Yuen Long (27 July)[edit]

Despite a police ban on the rally, thousands turned up on 27 July to protest the violent mob attack in Yuen Long the previous Sunday.[296][297] Prior to the protest, a man was arrested for the stabbing of a pro-democracy activist dressed in black.[298] The protesters marched on the main roads in Yuen Long, and surrounded the Yuen Long police station. Leonard Cheng, the president of Lingnan University, joined the march as an observer and became the first university chief to attend a protest since the Umbrella Revolution in 2014.[299] The organisers claimed an attendance of about 288,000.[300] To disperse the protesters, the police fired tear gas in a primarily residential area and in the evening, the stand-offs between the protesters and the police escalated into violent clashes inside Yuen Long station.[301]

Ma On Shan police station blockades (1–3 August)[edit]

On 1 August, a police station in Ma On Shan was surrounded by a large number of protesters. They demanded the release of demonstrators facing riot charges from the protest last week.[302] Photos show protesters hurling bricks that were dug out from pavements towards the police station, shattering windows. At around 3:50 AM, riot police cleared away the protesters.

On 2 August, hundreds gathered in response to police raids and arrests made for possession of protest supplies. At 11 pm, the crowd assembled near the Sha Tin police station and constructed barricades. By 1 am the protest shifted to the Ma On Shan police station, after word was received that the eight arrested individuals were being held at that location. Activists attempted to pry open the metal shutters, vandalised building walls, and removed the "Ma On Shan Police Station" sign. Riot police responded to the solidarity protest and by 3:15 am the crowds had dispersed.[303]

On 3 August, democracy activists again returned to the Ma On Shan police station for the second consecutive night.[275] They demanded the release of eight arrested protesters, including pro-independence activist Andy Chan Ho-tin, who was arrested the day before during a police raid on a building in Fo Tan and charged on suspicion of offensive weapons.[303] The group of about 100 protesters banged on the metal shutters, threw hell money to curse the officers inside, and some painted graffiti messages such as "liberate Hong Kong" and "all consequences are at your own risk." Riot police began clearing the crowds at 10:45 pm.[275][304] The police attempted to enter Park Belvedere, a private residential building, an act that angered both protesters and residents.[305][306] The police also allegedly threw pepper bombs at people on a bridge.[275]

Tin Shui Wai police station protest (5 August)[edit]

Following the arrest of a female protester who had her skirt and underwear torn by police officers during the struggle,[307] eleven gender rights advocacy groups, including Gender and Sexual Justice in Action and the Chinese University’s Sex and Gender Concern Group called for a rally outside Tin Shui Wai police station on 5 August to condemn the police over the suspect's mistreatment. Protesters threw eggs at the police while the police used tear gas to disperse the protesters.[308] Legislator Helena Wong condemned the police over the treatment of the protester, calling the arrest "extremely disrespectful of women". Responding to the criticism, Yolanda Yu, senior superintendent said that the protester was "struggling vigorously" and therefore required male police officers to subdue her.[309]

Solidarity protest of laser pointer arrest (6 & 7 August)[edit]

Hundreds gathered at Hong Kong Space Museum with their laser pointers in protest of selective legal enforcement and the arrest of Fong. 7 August 2019

In the afternoon of 6 August, Hong Kong Baptist University student union president Keith Fong was arrested in Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po district. Plainclothes officers said that they approached him as "he was acting suspiciously". Fong ran away but was caught. He was searched and 10 laser pointers, were found in a plastic bag. Fong stated that he purchased those laser pointers for stargazing, while passers-by supported him and chanted "release him". However, police officers arrested him for "possession of offensive weapon". Fong then complained of feeling unwell after he was choked by the officers and was taken to Caritas Medical Centre. His parents, along with Baptist University principal Roland Chin and lawyers, went to the hospital to visit him.[310] Chin asked the police ensure students are treated fairly.[311]

The student union and other citizens voiced their anger, condemning police for their abuse of power and described it as part of a broader campaign to intimidate and silence democracy activists. They questioned how laser pointers could become an "offensive weapon", a police representative responded in a press conference that several police officers in previous protests were injured due to laser beams that were pointed at them. At night, around 300 protesters gathered outside Sham Shui Po Police Station, chanting "triads" and "mafia cops." Police fired several tear gas to disperse the crowd, and arrested several protesters, including Sha Tin District Councilor Wong Hok-lai, for "unlawful assembly".[99]

Protesters pointing their laser pointer to a newspaper held, mocking the police's demonstration. 6 August 2019

On 7 August, a group of teachers and staff members from HKBU held a press conference supporting Fong and condemning police's excessive force. They stated that the arrest is "unexplainable" and question the selective police enforcement with "unreasonable definition of offensive weapon". They also said that the freedom granted by the Basic Law is shaken by the police's action.[312]

In a police press conference in the afternoon, police representatives stated that the laser pointers he purchased were in fact "laser guns." They attempted to demonstrate the "laser gun" Fong purchased is able to burn a hole in a paper by pointing it to a black area of a newspaper and holding it steadily for 20 seconds at very short distance.[313][314] According to Stand News, hundreds of shoppers have since been searching for laser pointers with many shops completely sold out.[315]

At night, a group of protesters gathered at Hong Kong Space Museum and shined laser pointers on the wall of the museum, some chanted slogans like "laser pointer revolution" and joked "Is the building on fire yet?" They hoped to show support to Fong and voice condemnation of his arrest by police, and to show that laser pointers are neither offensive weapons nor effective enough to cause a fire. Protesters also sang the song "I Am Angry" from Cantopop band Beyond.[100][316]

Fong was detained 48 hours without any criminal charges, and then released on 8 August.[317]

Paper-burning protests (9 & 14 August)[edit]

A paper-burning protest was held in Wong Tai Sin and Sha Tin, in line with traditional Chinese customs during the Ghost Festival. Protesters burnt joss paper and threw hell money and attempted to light a bundle of incense sticks using laser pointers. They also threw hell money with Carrie Lam's face and a paper doll representing Junius Ho into a burning bin. 5 people were arrested by the police in Wong Tai Sin.[318][319]

Another paper-burning protest was held in Sham Shui Po. Similarly, protesters burnt joss papers and images showing the faces of Carrie Lam and Police Commissioner Stephen Lo outside the Sham Shui Po police station. The protest was largely peaceful. The police then dispersed the protesters by shooting tear gas inside the police building complex and deploying riot police.[320] Another similar protest was held in Tin Shui Wai, in which riot police arrested 5 protesters.[321]

Reclaim To Kwa Wan-Hung Hom (17 August)[edit]

The protest was initially set to be held on 27 July, though it was later moved to 17 August to prevent clashing with "Reclaim Yuen Long".[322] The police initially banned the protest, though they approved when it adopted a shorter route. Protesters marched from Hoi Sham Park to Whampoa station to call the government to solve the community issues brought by an excessive number of mainland tourists in the region and condemn police brutality. The branch offices of pro-Beijing parties DAB and HKFTU were vandalized, and protesters hurled eggs at the offices. Protesters placed pineapples, a slang for homemade explosives, outside HKFTU's office, reflecting their role during the Hong Kong 1967 leftist riots.[323] Some protesters marched back to To Kwa Wan and Kowloon City and occupied sections of Ma Tau Wai Road and To Kwa Wan Road.[324] Some protesters also moved to Mong Kok, Jordan and Yau Ma Tei and besieged the Mong Kok police station. Overall, approximately 20,000 joined the rally. [323]

Allegations of HK Police Force misconduct[edit]

Unlawful use of force[edit]

Since 12 June, the police's use of force was frequently criticized. Amnesty International published a report on 21 June and concluded that the police's use of force violated "international law". Police were criticized for using rubber bullets dangerously, as they were often found shooting protesters in the face. The use of force on peaceful and non-violent protesters, such as pepper-spraying a man who posed no threat and beating protesters who were retreating with police batons, was condemned.[325] The usage of bean bag rounds, which ruptured a female protester's right eye, was widely criticized and fueled protesters' anger. The use of force in Tai Koo station, which saw police officers targeting protesters' heads using pepper ball rounds, was also a common point of criticism.[326] Police officers also kicked protesters who were already restrained.[327] Police's use of force also injured uninvolved bystanders using police batons,[328] In the Reclaim Sheung Shui protest, police officers chased an innocent youth and nearly caused him to fall off a bridge.[329]

During the protests, the police were accused of not giving warning before using force,[330] or not giving both protesters and the press sufficient time to retreat before using any force. Some police officers also displayed their warning flags in places that protesters cannot see clearly.[331] The police often use force from above ground. On 5 August, near the Government Headquarters, officers shot tear gas canisters from 20 floors up, which Jim Bueermann, former police chief and President of the Police Foundation in Washington, described as reckless and "hugely problematic" because of the potentially lethal consequences.[331][332]

Suspected police brutality prompted protesters to call for an independent inquiry to investigate the police's behaviors. Responding to the situation in Hong Kong, United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet demanded the Hong Kong government to conduct "prompt, independent, impartial investigation" on the police's use of force against protesters.[333]

Excessive use of teargas[edit]

The police's use of tear gas was also commonly criticized. Its use on a group of peaceful protesters near the CITIC Tower nearly risked a stampede according to pan-democratic Legislative Councilors.[334] Because many protests occurred near residential areas, the police department's use of tear gas often affected innocent bystanders, children, elderly and pets, and often angered nearby residents.[335] Even when protesters retreated, the police still fired canisters of tear gas on empty roads.[336]

On 5 August in Sham Shui Po, freelance journalist Ryan Lai was hit in the head with a teargas canister while filming protests outside of the police station.[337]

The 11 August deployment of tear gas indoors at Kwai Tsing station was also condemned, as indoor use may cause a stampede and the concentrated substances may pose severe health risks without proper ventilation. Tear gas was at times utilized as an offensive weapon, and some police officers attempted to shoot protesters with the teargas canisters, causing burns to the skin. Shooting several canisters of tear gas at once was also criticized for making crowd dispersal much more difficult.[331][338] The tear gas canisters used by the police were suspected to be expired.

On 12 August, the Police admitted that the police had used "canisters of tear gas past their use-by date", though they insisted that the expired tear gas did not induce additional harmful effects.[339]

Inconsistent law enforcement[edit]

During the 1 July march, when protesters stormed the Legislative Council Complex, they were met with little to no police resistance. When protesters stormed inside the building, they vandalized the interiors and defaced the emblem. The police's inaction was criticized for being "propaganda points" for the government to discredit the protesters and damage their image.[340] According to the democrats, further actions to discredit protesters occurred when protesters besieged the Police Headquarters when the police accused the protesters of blocking ambulances, though Fire Service Department rebuked their claim.[341]

The police's delayed responses towards the Yuen Long station attackers, where they arrived 39 minutes after initial calls for help, was criticized. Police station also shut their doors, preventing citizens from requesting help.[342] The fact that no one was immediately arrested after the event triggered public outcry. Officers in riot gear surrounded the Nam Pin Wai Village but took no action against the white-clad men inside.[343] Superintendent Yau Nai-keung claimed that no offensive weapon was found, though the press filmed a video showing a white-clad man holding a metal bar standing next to police officers.[344] This sparked criticisms from the public, who suspected the police for colluding with the triads.[345] When protesters were attacked in North Point and Tsuen Wan again on 5 August, the police's response was once again condemned as "slow". Conflicts between protesters and attackers lasted for nearly half an hour before the police arrived.[346]

The police's arrests of first-aiders also prompted hospital staffs to staged sit-ins to protest against their decision. The police was also accused of obstructing emergency medical treatment for the arrested protesters.[347] During the 12 June incident, police officers fired tear gas directly at unarmed first-aid volunteers.[348]

Interfering with press freedom[edit]

The police were accused of obstructing press freedom by obstructing reporters from taking photographs by shining flashing lights at them.[349] According to Hong Kong Journalists Association, the press were jostled away "deliberately" by the police even after they have disclosed their identities.[350] On 6 August, a reporter from Tai Kung Pao was temporarily detained by the police for assaulting a police officer, though he was released shortly afterward.[351]

The police's use of force threatened the safety of journalists. During the protests, police used pepper spray and tear gas on journalists, leading to injuries. Their equipment was also damaged by the police. Due to sustained exposure to tear gas, numerous journalists developed health problems such as breathing difficulty and persistent coughing.[352] The HKJA staged a silent march against police brutality on 14 July which attracted 1,500 people, and the association had already filed at least 10 complaints relating to these injuries to the Independent Police Complaints Council.[353][354]

Lack of identification[edit]

On 21 June, the police was accused of removing the identification numbers printed on the uniform of Special Tactical Squad to conceal officers' identities. Secretary of Justice John Lee explained that the uniform had "no room" for displaying the identification numbers, though he was rebuked by Legislator Lam Cheuk-ting when he pointed out that the numbers were displayed on the uniform during the 9 June protests. Plain-clothed CID members were also unable to show their warrant card during the 7 July Kowloon protest, though such action was against police's guidelines. The police were criticized for concealing officers' identities, which democrats said had encouraged officers to abuse their power and made it difficult for citizens to file complaints.[355][356]

Questionable tactics[edit]

During the 14 July protest in Sha Tin, conflicts broke out inside New Town Plaza as police blocked protesters from leaving via Sha Tin station. Civil right groups and pan-democratic councilors criticized the police for kettling the protesters, in which the police confined protesters in a small area without leaving any exit route. The Civil Rights Observer criticized the police's tactic for risking the safety of other bystanders who were also kettled by the police,[357] while councilor Claudia Mo added that the tactic directly led protesters to become more hostile and aggressive.[358] Lawyers pointed out that the police's operation to disperse the crowds in the mall without the consent of Sun Hung Kai Properties violated of the Police General Orders.[359]

The police also used undercover officers to infiltrate the protesters. These officers refused to show their identification numbers when they were approached by journalists. Deputy police chief Chris Tang admitted that the Force had deployed undercover cops who were disguised as various "characters", but he refused to disclose how many agents were involved. However, such tactic also meant that the undercover police officers would have to break the law with the protesters.[360]

The police were also accused of tampering with evidence. When Fong Chung-yin was arrested for possessing "offensive weapons", which were found to be unpowered laser pointers, police officers inserted batteries into his laser pointers to show to the press that laser pointers can cause a fire. The press expressed concern that the police had interfered with the judicial process.[361] The arrest of a protester on 11 August, during which a police officer was found putting a stick inside his backpack, was filmed. The police force was accused of planting evidence to frame the protester. The police defended the tactic, saying that the protester had held the stick before he was arrested.[362]

Suppressing freedom of demonstration[edit]

The police banned the Reclaim Yuen Long protest on 27 June due to fear that protesters may clash with the villagers living there.[363] However, after the protest, the police continued to ban marches in various places in Hong Kong. The ban on CHRF march on 18 August, where protesters flooded the streets of Hong Kong Island as 1.7 million people showed up for the rally, prompted CHRF to file a judicial review against the police ban.[364] During the fifth citizen press conference, the speakers pointed out that it was a "mistake" for the police to ban the CHRF march, as violence did not break out as the police had predicted. As police rarely banned marches, CHRF representatives criticized the police's recent bans, which had had eroded Hong Kong's freedom of demonstration.[365]

Personal conduct of officers[edit]

The conduct of several officers was criticized and mocked. Police officers were accused of verbally assaulting protesters, journalists and hospital staffs.[366] During the Kowloon protest, an officer also provoked protesters, asking them to "brawl" with him.[367] The Junior Police Officers’ Association also described protesters as "cockroaches", a claim the police's public relations branch distanced itself with.[368]


On 9 June, more than a dozen ships carrying banners with slogans supporting the bill cruised Victoria Harbour.[369] Around 20 supporters from the Safeguard Hong Kong Alliance, a pro-Beijing activist group, also showed up at the government quarters to support the bill a few hours before the anti-extradition bill protest.[370]

On 16 June, around 40 protesters from the pro-Beijing Safeguard Hong Kong Alliance and the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU) protested outside the U.S. Consulate General in Central, condemning the US for allegedly interfering in the extradition law.[371] Hundreds of Pro-Beijing supporters gathered in Chater Garden in Central under the banner "Support Hong Kong Police Force, Blessing to Hong Kong" on 22 June; pro-Beijing figures such as legislator Priscilla Leung and pro-police campaigner Leticia Lee fronted the rally.[372]

On 30 June, a more significant demonstration was organised by pro-Beijing legislator Junius Ho Kwan-yiu to show solidarity for the police and support for the extradition bill, taking place in front of the government headquarters in Tamar. Former police chief Tang King-shing and former deputy police commissioner Peter Yam Tat-wing took to the podium, as did artists such as Alan Tam and Tony Leung.[373] The organisers claimed that 165,000 people attended, while police cited 53,000. There were multiple confrontations as the pro-police supporters ran into small groups of anti-bill protesters wearing black, getting into arguments and scuffles with them as well with journalists covering the event.[373] The Lennon Wall in Admiralty was destroyed by the pro-police supporters[374] and pan-democratic Legislative Councilor Lam Cheuk-ting was physically assaulted.[375]

On 15 July, dozens of protesters from ten Pro-Beijing groups including the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) held a demonstration in support of the Police and condemned the protesters for violently attacking the police.[376] On 16 July 20 members of a Hawker Association held a demonstration outside the Wan Chai Police Station, condemning the protests for the drop of 40–50% in their sales. They also thanked the police for their work and called for the authorities to uphold the rule of law.[377] On 17 July 70 members from the DAB and Politihk Social Strategic including lawmakers Ann Chiang, Elizabeth Quat, Wilson Or and Junius Ho Kwan-yiu held demonstrations outside the Wan Chai Police Station to express their support for the police, urge them to rethink their operations when dealing with ongoing protests and called the government to ban protests until September.[376][378][379] On 18 July, around 30 supporters from the Pro-Beijing organisation of The Friends of Hong Kong Association held a demonstration outside the Wan Chai police's headquarters to show their support. They also donated 10 million to the police welfare fund.[380][381] On 19 July 20 members from the pro-Beijing group, the Justice Alliance led by Leticia Lee held a demonstration out the Police Headquarters, where they delivered 10,000 juice boxes to the police and called on officers to "show no mercy" to protesters.[382][383]

On 20 July, a demonstration organised by pro-Beijing coalition Safeguard Hong Kong Alliance occurred at Tamar Park to show solidarity for the police and support for the extradition bill. The organisers claimed that 316,000 attended, while police cited 103,000.[384] Chan Pak-cheung, Maria Cordero, Elsie Leung and Maria Tam, former police chief Tang King-shing, and pro-Beijing legislators Regina Ip and Starry Lee attended and took turns giving speeches on the stage.[385]

During the afternoon of 2 August, around 40 people from three pro-Beijing groups including New Millenarian, called for the sacking of any civil servants who will join the protest rally in the evening, stating those who join are violating the principle of political neutrality.[386] Around 100 protesters gathered outside the US-consulate-general on 3 August to condemn alleged US interference in Hong Kong internal affairs.[387] On the same day, another larger rally occurred in Victoria Park organised by Politihk Social Strategic, called for an end to the violence and support for the Hong Kong Police, with Junius Ho taking stage to give speeches. While police estimated 26,000, the organisers claimed that 90,000 people took part in the event.[388]

On 6 August, around 40 supporters from the DAB and Hong Kong Fujian Women Association held a rally outside Police HQ in Wan Chai to show support for the Police in dealing with anti-government protesters.[389] On 8 August, about 30 Pro-Beijing protesters gathered in Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier, and demanded that those who threw the national flag into the sea be brought to justice as they insulted the national flag and emblem.[390] At the same time, 100 supporters from Politihk Social Strategic held a rally outside the Wan Chai Police HQ demanding the suspended extradition law bill to be resurrected and an inquiry into whether pro-democracy lawmakers have been instigating the recent riots.[391][392] On 9 August 15 members from the Hong Kong Honour Alliance Association, staged a rally outside the Wan Chai Police HQ to express their support for the police during 21 July Yuen Long mob attack on commuters, stating the Police did what they could.[393]

On 10 August, three pro-police rallies organised by Safeguard Hong Kong Alliance took place. Around 300 people gathered at Central Police Station in Sheung Wan to show their support, while 50 supporters gathered outside Kwun Tong Police Station and 245 people from the Hong Kong Fujian Association showed up in North Point.[394] On 11 August, outside of Toronto in Markham, Ontario, Canada, a solidarity protest occurred in support for the Hong Kong Police, Hong Kong Government and the Chinese government. Around 400 supporters representing various Chinese and Asian organisations based in Canada turned up promoting the theme of 'Supporting Stable and Prosperous Peace, Hong Kong and China will be better tomorrow'.[395] On 16 August, About 20 supporters from pro-police group - Protect Hong Kong League urge the Hospital Authority to ban medical staffs from wearing surgical masks at work. They claim that the use of surgical masks reminds the police of recent protesters, impeding police’s enforcement of law and causing conflict inside government institutions. [396]

On 17 August, a pro-government rally organised by the Safeguard Hong Kong Alliance occurred in Tamar Park. Organisers said 476,000 people including pro-government politicians and business leaders joined the demonstration, but police stated only 108,000 attended.[397] Over the 16–18 August weekend, protests in support of China and the Hong Kong Police took place in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, London, Paris, Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary.[140][142][144][398]

On 19 August, Macau police briefly detained 30 white-shirt wearing people on the suspicions that they were taking part in an illegal protest, however they were released after around 30 minutes. This came after Macau Police rejected a request for a silent protest against Hong Kong police to be held at 8pm at Senate Square.[147]

Chinese government and media[edit]

Official statements[edit]

Allegations of foreign interference[edit]

Timelapse video of 16 June protests.

The Beijing government and state-run media have accused foreign forces of interfering with domestic affairs, and supporting the protesters[399][400][401][402][403][404][405][406] which have in turn prompted responses from those accused and third party observers.[399][407][401][402][408][409][410] Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies described this as a popular tactic used by China, since it appeals to traditional anti-Westerner sentiment.[402]

After 9 June protest, the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused opponents of the proposed extradition law of "collusion with the West", and voiced support for the Hong Kong administration.[411] State-run media, China Daily, cited more than 700,000 people backing the legislation through an online petition, "countering a protest by about 240,000 people."[370][411] Its coverage was cited by Buzzfeed News as an example of propaganda as the state-run newspaper failed to mention the "one million Hong Kongers that rallied in opposition to the extradition bill".[412] Meanwhile, Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times dismissed the mass demonstration on 9 June, stating that "some international forces have significantly strengthened their interaction with the Hong Kong opposition in recent months."[413]

On 26 July, Hua Chunying stated that Civil Human Rights Front's action of asking foreign countries to issue travel alerts on Hong Kong is "an attempt to pressure the Central and SAR governments by inciting foreign forces to interfere in Hong Kong affairs" and further said that "those who try to bring a wolf into the house to harm the country and the people" should be careful to study the lessons of history.[414]

On 7 August, Hua Chunying responded to a statement issued by Nancy Pelosi on 6 August that Congress would advance the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by accusing her of "bolstering violent radical criminals and even justifying and whitewashing their behaviors."[415]

Pro-Beijing newspapers in Hong Kong and Taiwan have claimed that Taiwanese agents are assisting protesters in Hong Kong. Other sources of disinformation have appeared on-line, and Taiwan's Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau has asked at the request of the Taiwanese Presidential Office that Facebook remove fake news posts that claim President Tsai Ing-wen has funnelled US$32 million to the Hong Kong democracy movement through the Taiwanese embassy.[416][417]

Foreigners living, working and studying in Hong Kong have been targeted by Hong Kong pro-Beijing lawmakers and media.[418] On 28 July, state media China Daily asserted that Hong Kong residents support government and police efforts to foil the alleged schemes of foreigners.[419] State-owned media circulated photos of foreigners along with captions of text that suggest affiliation with foreign intelligence agencies.[409][418] A New York Times journalist was accused of being "suspicious" in a story ran by Chinese state-owned media Ta Kung Pao.[409] The "Hong Kong Hermit" who is a foreigner and social media activist was also targeted in a Facebook post by a pro-Beijing lawmaker who called him a "protest commander."[409][418] These actions have in turn been criticized by those targeted and third party observers.[418][409]

Beginning on 7 August, CCTV,[420] Ta Kung Pao,[421] Wen Wei Po,[422] and Global Times[423][424] alleged collusion between the United States and the Hong Kong protests when they published articles which included a photo of Julie Eadeh (whom they accused of contributing to civil unrest) meeting in Hong Kong with leaders of Demosistō including Joshua Wong and Nathan Law and other pro-democracy figures including Anson Chan and Martin Lee.[425][421][426] Ta Kung Pao also published personal details about the diplomat's family, including photos and the names of her children and husband.[427] The US State Department condemned the action and rebuked China for violating the Vienna Convention.[428][429][427] Morgan Ortagus called the Chinese government a "thuggish regime" and said that, as "Chinese authorities know full well", diplomats of every country meet with opposition figures as part of their job.[429][427][428]


After the 21 July march, Beijing's top local official, liaison office director Wang Zhimin condemned the behaviour of "radical demonstrators" who blockaded and then defaced the national emblem affixed to the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government, saying it was necessary for the Hong Kong police to take action because the vandalism had "seriously hurt the feelings of all Chinese people."[430][431]

On 29 July, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office held its first press conference since the handover in which the spokesperson blamed the protests on the West and reiterated its support for Hong Kong, saying, "The central government firmly supports Carrie Lam leading the Hong Kong government’s administration according to law, firmly supports the Hong Kong police strictly enforcing rule of law."[432][433] The conference was in turn criticized by pro-democracy figures.[432][434][435]

The Chinese government has attempted to appeal to the silent majority; China Daily said of 20 July counter-demonstration that "the silent majority of Hong Kong has every reason to come out and defend their home"[436] while the spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office appealed at a press conference on 7 August to the Silent Majority to help control the protesters.[437] Ma Ngok, an associate professor of Hong Kong politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that Beijing was trying to appeal to "the moderate, conservative middle-aged people -- parents who are afraid of their kids breaking the law, getting arrested and ruining their futures."[437]

Boycotts and pressuring[edit]

China's state-owned media have encouraged boycotts of companies accused of supporting the democracy movement. Taiwanese bubble tea chain Yifang, and Pocari Sweat have come under pressure from China.[438]

On 8 August, Chinese authorities pressured Hong Kong's main airline Cathay Pacific to suspend staff members who participated in the anti-extradition protests, and ban staff members from being part of any flights to China.[439][440] Chinese officials further demanded that the airline must submit for prior approval the names of all crew members flying to Chinese cities or flying through Chinese airspace.[441] Some staff have voiced disagreement about Beijing's recent moves and the then chairman John Slosar defended his staff saying in a press statement that ""We employ 27,000 people in Hong Kong ... we obviously do not imagine telling them what they have to think about certain subjects."[440][441]

On 16 August Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg resigned due to pressures from Beijing.[442] A second senior executive also stepped down in response to threats against the airline by Chinese authorities.[443] The Chinese Civil Aviation Administration had requested a list of employees involved in recent protests. CEO Rubert Hogg refused, and submitted a list that included only his own name. Shortly thereafter, his resignation was announced by Chinese state owned media CCTV.[444][445]

On 20 August, Chinese Foreign Ministry sent a letter to more than 30 overseas media outlets in Beijing including BBC, NBC, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, and NHK, requesting them to follow the central government’s position on Hong Kong affairs.[446]


In August, Twitter and Facebook published ads paid for by several different Chinese state media outlets, including Xinhua.[447][448] The ad campaign targeted users in Hong Kong with "sponsored" content posted to the Twitter feed, speaking negatively of the protests and warning of economic troubles.[449][450] On 19 August, Twitter posted an update about new advertising standards: "Going forward, we will not accept advertising from state-controlled news media entities ... that are either financially or editorially controlled by the state."[451][452] Additionally, more than a dozen Facebook ads targeted for the US audience have been paid for by CGTN.[453] Facebook has stated that they would continue to promote state-sponsored advertising.[454] An insider with the company said that China purchases Facebook advertising worth "hundreds of thousands of dollars" each fiscal quarter, making China the largest client in Asia, though the social network is banned within mainland China and unavailable to residents.[455]

Internet activities[edit]

Censorship and condemnation[edit]

The first two weeks of protests were largely ignored by central mainland media outlets, with no major stories published until 17 April.[456] The protests were mostly censored from Mainland Chinese social media, such as Sina Weibo.[457] Keyword searches of "Hong Kong", "HK" and "extradition bill" led to other official news and entertainment news. Accounts that posted content regarding the protest were also blocked.[458] By 14 June, censors were said to be working overtime to erase or block news of the protests on social media.[459] On Sina Weibo and WeChat, the term "let's go Hong Kong" was blocked with the platform citing "relevant laws, regulations and policies" as the reason for not showing search results.[460] Chinese social media users have attempted to bypass censors by rotating relevant pictures or even putting logos on them;[461] however, while messages or images may appear to the sender as having been delivered, recipients often do not actually receive the communication as it has been secretly deleted by censors.[462]

China's state television company China Central Television covered the LegCo occupation of 1 July, and claimed the action was "condemned by people from all walks of life in Hong Kong." There was however no mention of opposition to the extradition bill or any explanation given about the reasons for the protest.[463]

Chinese state-run media also condemned a small group of protesters for removing the Chinese flag on 3 August. Guangming Daily said protesters' actions to remove the Chinese flag have "touched the bottom line of China's national sovereign security" and the protests have "exposed Hong Kong's 'abscess'" in the long term.[464]

State media tabloid Global Times described the non-cooperation movements as "obviously hijacking the whole city" and claimed the movements are "not only anti-democracy but also anti-human rights."[465] The Global Times also praised the policeman pointing a gun loaded with beanbag rounds on 30 July solidarity rallies.[466]

Following the largely peaceful 10 August protests and weekend airport sit-ins, state media outlet People's Daily disseminated an article via WeChat that portrayed democracy activists as the instigators of violence. The article stated that there is broad call from Hong Kong society to make the city safe again by ending "violent demonstrations".[467]

On 12 August, Yang Guang, a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, stated "radical protesters" have "repeatedly attacked police officers in the past few days and have committed serious violent crimes", which "has begun to show the 'first signs of terrorism'".[468]

In response to the protests on 13 August, Chinese media stated that, "Hong Kong protesters are 'asking for self-destruction.'"[469]

People's Daily has described Jimmy Lai, Martin Lee, Anson Chan and Albert Ho as "Gang of Four who bring ruin to Hong Kong".[470]


During anti-extradition bill protests on 12 June, the encrypted messaging service Telegram went off-line due to cyberattacks. Telegram is an app that has been widely used by Hong Kong democracy activists to maintain private communications. Pavel Durov, Telegram founder, stated that service disruptions were the result of large-scale DDoS attacks that originated from a state actor.[471] Durov later concluded that, based on IP address geolocation, the source of the cyberattacks was China and that it was not the first time Telegram had been targeted by the Chinese.[472] Network attacks subsided by 8 pm that day, and Telegram services resumed.[197]

Cyberattacks also occurred during the 2014 Umbrella Revolution. Security researchers believe China's Ministry of State Security was responsible for targeting democracy activists with sophisticated malware and spyware attacks that infected Android and iOS devices.[473][474] The intelligence agency was also linked to powerful denial of service attacks aimed at CloudFlare and Internet voting systems and websites that enabled a grassroots civic referendum.[475][476]

The Chinese government has denied that they engaged in cyberwarfare operations. According to a spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China has "always advocated that the international community should jointly safeguard the security of cyberspace through dialogue and cooperation."[471]

Social media[edit]

After some Hong Kong protesters removed the Chinese flag from a flagpole in Star Ferry Pier, Tsim Sha Tsui and threw it into the sea, state media CCTV posted a photo of the Chinese flag on Sina Weibo, with the caption "I am flag protector" and hashtag "#The five-star red flag has 1.4 billion protectors#".[477] It has been reposted nearly a million times. The photo was shared by celebrities including Jackie Chan, Jackson Wang, Lucas Wong, Angelababy, Cao Lu, Lai Kuan-lin, Victoria Song, Wu Xuanyi, Cheng Xiao, Meng Meiqi, Song Yuqi, Wang Feifei, Zhou Jieqiong, Xu Minghao, Wen Junhui, Lay Zhang, William Chan, and Jordan Chan.[478][479]

A few days later, in response to an incident when a Global Times reporter was attacked by protesters in the Hong Kong International Airport, People's Daily posted a photo on Weibo with the words "I support Hong Kong police. You can beat me now." and "What a shame for Hong Kong", along with the hashtag "#I also support Hong Kong police#". The post has been shared by celebrities including Liu Yifei, which led to a boycott event for Mulan, a Disney movie starring Liu. The hashtag #BoycottMulan trended on Twitter.[480]

On 19 August, both Twitter and Facebook announced that they had discovered large-scale disinformation campaigns operating on their social networks.[481][482] On Facebook, images and videos of protesters were altered and taken out of context, often with captions intended to vilify democracy activists and their cause.[483] Offensive posts called protestors "cockroaches" who were afraid to show their faces, and compared them to ISIS terrorists.[484] Many of the Twitter posts were written in English and intended for a broader global audience.[485] Some of the blocked accounts appeared to be targeting Americans specifically, claiming to be based in locations such as Chicago and Long Beach.[486] Some of the accounts posed as Chinese dissidents; one bio stated, "Born in 1970, experienced June Fourth, now living in China", referring to the Tiananmen Square massacre.[487]

According to investigations by Facebook and Twitter, some of the attacks were coordinated state-backed operations that were traced to the Chinese government.[488][489] Twitter identified a core group of nearly 1,000 "fake" accounts, along with an extended spam network of 200,000 accounts, all of which were "proactively suspended."[481][490] Facebook removed a network of seven pages, three groups (including one with 15,500 followers), and five accounts (including one with 2,200 members) in response to its findings.[482][488][489] On 22 August, Google stated it had disabled 210 YouTube channels involved in "coordinated influence operations" around the Hong Kong protests, "consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter". It said it "found use of VPNs and other methods to disguise the origin" of the accounts.[491][492]

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Geng Shuang suggested that the activity could be attributed to overseas Chinese citizens, and stated that they "have the rights to express their opinions and viewpoints".[493][494] In Bloomberg Opinion, Adam Minter wrote that "the vast majority of content tweeted by these accounts wasn't related to Hong Kong and -- most important -- failed to generate retweets, likes or responses".[495][undue weight? ] Comparing the Russian online propaganda effort with China's, Adam Segal says "the Chinese use of it has tended to be limited to issues that the Chinese consider being internal issues or sovereignty issues." [496]


On 29 July, disinformation was widely distributed across social media networks within hours of a rare press conference held in Beijing.[497] Chinese officials at the media event denounced the Hong Kong democracy movement protests but side-stepped questions about the use of military force.[498] Shortly after the Chinese defence ministry speech, several videos circulated on-line that appeared to show the People's Liberation Army entering Hong Kong and engaging in a military crackdown. According to Agence France-Presse, the fake videos have been viewed millions of times and are circulating on Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo, and other platforms. The video content, which depicts Chinese tanks and foot soldiers operating in urban areas, are all sourced from old footage but are presented with captions such as "PRC army is taking control of HK."[497]

On 30 July, Bloomberg News reported that an anonymous White House official had leaked information about a potential Chinese military buildup along the Hong Kong border.[499] On 31 July a "summer training" and oath taking ceremony was held at the Guangdong police centre in Guangzhou, relatively near to the border with Hong Kong. About 19,000 police officers were reportedly in attendance.[500]

On 31 July, the PLA distributed a short promotional film, which was posted via the Hong Kong garrison's official Sina Weibo social media account.[501] In the opening scenes, a soldier shouts in Cantonese "All consequences are at your own risk!" The video shows heavily armed troops shooting at mock citizen actors and making arrests; there are also depictions of tanks, helicopters, rocket launchers, automatic weapons, and water cannons being deployed in urban areas. The film closes with quotes from civilians, stating "The discipline of the military is very good" and "The PLA and people of Hong Kong are integrated."[502][503][504]

On 6 August, hundreds of Chinese military vehicles were spotted in Shenzen Bay including Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre, reportedly in preparation of a probable intervention of the Chinese military. The group of Chinese military vehicles in Shenzen Bay were shown in a video made by the Chinese government.[505][506]

International reactions[edit]

In light of the ongoing protests, several countries issued travel warnings to Hong Kong.[507]

See also[edit]


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