Evening, March of 800,000, December 8, 2019, Hong Kong (Photo: Lam Yik Fei)

A Timeline of the Hong Kong Protests

from February 2018 to February 2020

The first protest against the extradition bill occurred on March 31, 2019, but the ‘Hong Kong protests’ are generally considered to have started with the first mega-march of 1.03 million protesters on June 9. Since then, protests have continued over eight months, with at least one million protesters taking to the streets every month from June 2019 through January 2020. In all, as of the end of February, there have been at least 973 protests and 14,507,591 protesters. Occurring as they have over eight months, the massive protests have been accompanied by an extraordinary array of events and developments related to them. This timeline is extensive but far from comprehensive and is meant merely to indicate the most important protests and events. It should not be construed as a coherent narrative history but as a point of reference. It includes all of the 29 protests of more than 100,000.

Further information: Hong Kong protests, including a chronological list of protests, a monthly count of number of protests and protesters, and a list of banned protests; and Arrests and trials of Hong Kong protesters.

2018

February 17

A twenty-year-old Hong Kong woman, Poon Hiu-wing, is murdered in Taiwan. Her boyfriend, nineteen-year-old Chan Tong-kai, later returns to HK, confesses to the murder, and is arrested on March 13, but he cannot be charged with murder because HK doesn’t have jurisdiction over crimes committed outside HK. He is eventually charged with four counts of money laundering for taking and using her bank card.

2019

February 15

Citing the Poon Hiu-wing murder case, the Hong Kong government Security Bureau submits a proposal to the Legislative Council to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance. This proposal is commonly referred to as the extradition bill. Its main purpose is to legalize extradition to jurisdictions with which HK has no extradition agreement. This includes the People’s Republic of China, but not Taiwan, as Taiwan is not recognized as a separate jurisdiction by HK or the PRC but rather as part of the PRC.

March 31

12,000 attend the first protest against the extradition bill, a march organized by Civil Human Rights Front, a veteran pro-democracy group that has been responsible for many large protests over the years.

April 3

The Fugitive Offenders & Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019, or extradition bill, is tabled at the Legislative Council.

April 24

Eight of the Umbrella Movement Nine are sentenced for various ‘inciting public nuisance’ crimes related to the start of the Umbrella Movement in September 2014. Two are given eight months in prison and two others sixteen months. The latter are by far the longest prison sentences ever in HK for nonviolent protest. One of those two, Professor Benny Tai, is granted bail on August 15 in order to appeal his sentence. The other, Professor Chan Kin-man, continues to serve his sentence throughout the protests.

April 28

130,000 attend the second protest against the extradition bill, also organized by CHRF. It is the largest protest in HK since the Umbrella Movement in 2014.

April 29

Confessed murderer Chan Tong-kai is sentenced to 29 months in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of money-laundering. Because he has been remanded in custody since March 2018, he is eligible for early release in October.

May 9

Taiwan objects to the HK extradition bill and says that if it is passed, it will not seek the extradition of Chan Tong-kai or accept extradition arrangements with HK. Taiwan fears that if the bill becomes law, Taiwanese nationals could be extradited from HK to the PRC.

May 20

The HK government withdraws the extradition bill from the Legco Bills Committee, bypassing normal procedures, in order to circumvent obstructive maneuvers by pro-democracy Legco members and expedite it. It is scheduled for a second reading at a full Legco session on June 12. On May 21, Chief Executive Carrie Lam says the bill must be passed before Legco’s summer recess.

May 30

In order to allay concerns expressed by civil society, in particular business groups, the HK government announces it will amend the extradition bill to reduce the number of extraditable crimes and raise the threshold for extradition to crimes punishable by seven or more years in prison. To most people, the changes appear cosmetic.

June 4

180,000 attend the annual candlelight vigil on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, one of the largest turnouts in years.

June 6

3,000 lawyers dressed in black hold a silent march against the extradition bill.

June 9

1.03 million people take part in the first mega-march against the extradition bill. Even before the march is finished, the government announces it’s going ahead with the bill as scheduled.

June 12

100,000 surround government headquarters to prevent Legco from proceeding with the second reading of the extradition bill. With protesters blocking entrance and exit, Legco postpones the reading. Police attack the almost entirely peaceful protest, dispersing protesters and committing multiple abuses. The Police Commissioner labels protesters ‘rioters’, a term with serious legal implications in HK law. The issues of police brutality and excessive use of force and of how the government and police employ the charge of ‘riot’ with political motivation will become central to the protests.

June 13

Legco announces the cancellation of the second reading of the extradition bill. No date for a vote is set. On June 11, the Legco president said debate on the bill would finish by June 20 with a vote to follow. That plan is now scrapped.

June 15

Chief Executive Carrie Lam announces a ‘pause’ or suspension of the ‘current legislative exercise’ on the extradition bill. Echoing the words of the Police Commissioner, she calls June 12 protesters ‘blatant rioters’.

In the evening, 35-year-old protester Marco Leung Ling-kit falls from the roof of the Pacific Place shopping mall near government headquarters, the first fatality of the protests.

June 16

Two million people march, the largest protest in HK history. They take over many of the streets of Hong Kong Island between Causeway Bay and Admiralty. Police presence is minimal.

June 18

Protesters make four demands that emerged from the June 16 protest and online discussion: 1. Completely withdraw the extradition bill, 2. Investigate the police force for brutality, 3. Fully retract the characterization of the June 12 protest as a ‘riot’, and 4. Free all arrested protesters and drop all charges against them. A deadline of June 20 is set for the government to meet the demands. A fifth frequently expressed demand is that the Chief Executive and relevant ministers resign.

On June 17, the police commissioner already qualified the initial blanket characterization of the June 12 protest as a riot, saying only those who threw bricks or wielded metal poles will be liable for riot, but the CE has referred to protesters as ‘blatant rioters’. On June 19, the Secretary for Security defends police against charges of excessive and inappropriate use of force. On June 22, the Secretary for Justice rejects the demand that charges be dropped against protesters, saying the law must run its course.

June 21

30,000 protesters surround police headquarters. Police withdraw to within the compound. Protesters barricade the complex, pelt it with eggs, spraypaint anti-police slogans on the exterior and destroy security cameras.

June 26

Following a rally of 80,000 in nearby Edinburgh Place calling on G20 countries to support HK protesters at their upcoming summit, 3,000 protesters participate in a second siege of police headquarters. Again, police take no clearance action.

June 27 and 28

‘Stand with Hong Kong at G20’ ads are published in at least 17 newspapers in 12 countries around the world during the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. The Freedom Hong Kong publicity campaign crowdfunded over HK$5 million from over 20,000 donors in a matter of hours on June 25 to pay for the ads.

July 1

On the 22nd anniversary of the handover, 550,000 march. Another 30,000 contribute to breaking into the Legislative Council building. Several hundred enter it in the late evening, spraypainting slogans and vandalizing symbols of state power. From a speech by a protester in the Legco chamber demanding democracy, the fifth and last of the five demands emerges: full and genuine universal suffrage in elections for the Chief Executive and Legco, the very demand at the heart of the 2014 Umbrella Movement. Protesters retreat before an announced police clearance operation and none are arrested that night, but in the coming days, police threaten mass arrests.

July 7

230,000 take part in the first ‘district march’ in Kowloon. Twelve subsequent district marches occur in July and August in many different districts around the city. At least 1.3 million participate in all. These marches, organized online or by local groups, are a major way of spreading the uprising, and police eventually crack down on them.

July 9

A Lennon Wall ‘census’ shows 165 Lennon Walls have built in just about every neighborhood within the past 10 days. The original HK Lennon Wall was at government headquarters in the 2014 Umbrella Movement. When protesters surrounded the headquarters on June 12, they erected a new Lennon Wall. It was destroyed by pro-CCPers on June 30. Protesters rebuilt it, but when police moved in after the July 1 Legco break-in, it was destroyed again. Many of the new Lennon Walls around HK are more elaborate than the original and will continue to be maintained for months. Many will also be torn down by pro-CCPers. Eventually, the government will order a coordinated campaign by government workers to tear down the Lennon Walls. Still, some continue to pop up even after that.

July 14

115,000 take part in the second ‘district march’, this one in Sha Tin. Organized by local group Sha Tin Commons, it is the first-ever large protest in the New Territories district, HK’s most populous.

July 21

430,000 take part in a march on Hong Kong Island. For the first time, police place restrictions on a march, ordering it to end in Wan Chai, before reaching the vicinity of government headquarters. Many ignore the order and continue to march past there. Some protesters go to the Central Government Liaison Office, the official headquarters of the PRC government in HK, which has been left unguarded by police focused on defending HK government headquarters. The protesters deface the state emblem above the entrance. Apart from the defacing of the HKSAR emblem in Legco on July 1, this is the protesters’ first direct attack on the PRC government. The CCP is furious. A spate of incidents in which PRC flags are torn down from flagpoles and defaced elicits similar condemnation. CCP propaganda against a ‘separatist’ uprising increases.

Later in the evening, over one hundreds thugs in white t-shirts attack citizens with metal rods and rattan sticks in Yuen Long. After two police officers on the scene disappear, police take more than half an hour to respond to emergency calls and are then seen chatting amicably with the thugs, leading to accusations of police-thug collusion. Forty-five victims are hospitalized with injuries. No arrests are made that evening, though after an outcry, some three dozen are made in subsequent days and weeks. The event will go down as one of the most infamous and severely damage citizens’ trust in the police. After police unions unleash harsh criticism of the Chief Secretary, the number two government official, when he half-heartedly attempts to apologize for the attacks, the CS emphasizes his full support of police. A top police official later blames protesters for the attacks, claiming that the presence of some provoked the white-shirted thugs. There was no substantial protester presence in the area.

July 26

15,000 participate in an airport sit-in organized by aviation workers, the first of several such protests to take place at the airport in the coming weeks.

July 27

288,000 take part in a march in Yuen Long against the July 21 thug attacks and police inaction/complicity. The march is banned by police, the very first of altogether 20 marches to be banned over the coming months.

July 28

Police ban another march but allow a rally in Chater Garden. Some protesters spread out to nearby streets. Police make 49 arrests in Sheung Wan, not far from the Liaison Office. Forty-four are brought to court on July 31 and charged with ‘riot’, the first of three mass trials for ‘riot’, and, up to this point, the largest trial in HK history, soon to be superseded by the two others.

August 3

120,000 participate in a march in Mong Kok. Protests spread to Tsim Sha Tsui and Wong Tai Sin. The march was originally banned by police but a rally was approved. Upon appeal, a highly truncated march was allowed on a very different route from that first proposed. Protesters deviate from the route and are attacked by police.

August 4

150,000 participate in a march in Tseung Kwan O, and 20,000 in rally in western Hong Kong Island where police have banned a march.

August 5

290,000 take part in assemblies at seven different locations around HK as part of a general strike of 350,000 workers from 20 different sectors, the biggest strike in HK in living memory. From the early morning, subway lines are suspended and roads are blocked, severely disrupting transport. 224 flights are cancelled.

August 6

At a rare press conference held by the HK and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council in Beijing, a spokesperson warns, ‘Those who play with fire will perish by it…. Radical protests…are pushing [HK] into a dangerous abyss. Don’t ever misjudge the situation and mistake our restraint for weakness…. Don’t ever underestimate the firm resolve and immense strength of the central government.’ Communist Party officials have remained mostly silent regarding the two-month old crisis in HK, preferring to give the impression that this is HK’s local problem to solve and they have nothing to do with it, but they are beginning to speak out.

State media distribute a video of 12,000 Chinese police officers staging an anti-riot drill in Shenzhen, just across the border from HK, claiming the drills are public security measures in preparation for the PRC’s 70th anniversary.

August 9 to 11

Thousands take part in a three-day airport sit-in. The initial intention is to bring the plight of HK people to the attention of international visitors to the city, but as the idea catches on, some begin to see the utility of disrupting international travel to and from HK.

August 9

The PRC aviation authority warns Cathay Pacific that staff who have participated in ‘illegal protests’, ‘violent actions’ and ‘radical activities’ will not be allowed to fly in the PRC, where Cathay has extensive operations.

August 10 and 11

Thousands take part in three banned marches, in Tai Po on the 10th and Sham Shui Po and Hong Kong Island East and on the 11th.

August 12

For the first time, protesters enter the departures hall at the airport, about 5,000 in all. Protests have previously been confined to the arrivals hall. All flights are cancelled.

Following the PRC aviation authority’s warning of August 9, Cathay Pacific warns employees they could be subject to disciplinary measures or fired for supporting or participating in ‘illegal protests’. It subsequently fires employees for their social media posts, including the head of the flight attendants union on August 23.

CCP mouthpiece People’s Daily posts a video of armored military vehicles in Shenzhen at the border with Hong Kong, saying that the People’s Armed Police are empowered by law to deal with riots. A spokesperson of the HK and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council, the organ that’s been tasked with releasing the most explicit threats against HK, says ‘the first signs of terrorism’ are emerging in the HK protests.

August 12 to 15

Medical workers stage sit-in protests at 15 hospitals to protest police violence.

August 13

After flights resume in the morning, protesters fill the airport departures hall again. Some detain two people they suspect of being CCP agents. One is a Global Times reporter. Police enter the hall to free them. Flights are cancelled for a second day.

August 14

The Airport Authority applies for and receives from the High Court an injunction against protests at airport.

August 17

State media post a video of the People’s Armed Police in Shenzhen conducting training exercises involving mock clashes with protesters.

August 17 and 18

In conjunction with the August 18 protest in HK, ‘Stand with Hong Kong’ solidarity protests are held in at least 37 cities in 12 countries around the world.

August 18

1.7 million take part in a protest on Hong Kong Island. Police banned the planned march but allowed a rally in Victoria Park. There are so many protesters that they fill many of the streets of central Hong Kong Island. This is the third protest of more than one million people.

August 20

News breaks that an HK citizen, Simon Cheng, working for the British consulate in HK, has disappeared in the PRC. On August 24, Chinese authorities confirm that he was detained and has been released. He returns to Hong Kong. It transpires that he was arrested on August 8 in the part of the express rail terminus in HK under Chinese jurisdiction as he was attempting to return to HK. He was brought back to the PRC where he was forced to confess to ‘soliciting prostitution’ and held in so-called administrative detention. In November, Cheng, having fled to an unspecified country, says he was tortured during interrogation to force him to confess to inciting protesters to violence on behalf of the UK. His horrible story represents everything HK protesters are fighting against in the extradition bill.

August 23

210,000 participate in the Hong Kong Way, a series of human chains stretching across many parts of HK and modeled after the Baltic Way that took place on this date in 1989 when millions held hands in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania along the Russian border to protest for freedom and independence. It inspires hundreds of smaller human chains in the weeks to come.

August 24

Tens of thousands take part in a march in Kwun Tong. Though the march is approved by the police, MTR closes four stations in the vicinity. This is the beginning of MTR closing stations to make it more difficult for protesters to attend protests, even authorized ones. In coming days and weeks, some protesters retaliate by vandalizing MTR stations. MTR reacts by closing more stations. A vicious cycle ensues. Like Cathay Pacific, MTR is perceived by protesters as a company that is doing the political bidding of the Party. It also has extensive business interests in the PRC. Unlike Cathay, MTR is 75-percent government-owned and its services are central to HK’s transport network. Both Cathay and MTR have in the past been regarded by HK people with pride as symbols of HK’s efficiency and high quality. Their hijacking by the Party is regarded as indicative of what already happens in the PRC, where companies are routinely required to do the Party’s bidding, and an omen of what will happen in HK if people don’t prevent it.

August 29

State media post yet another video of the People’s Armed Police in Shenzhen conducting anti-riot drills. After this, explicit and implicit threats taper off as the Party appears to realize that they’re not scaring HK protesters but raising alarm in the rest of the world and the longer they go on without action, the less effective they will be.

August 29 and 30

Ahead of an August 31 march banned by police, nine pro-democracy leaders are arrested on various charges related to various protests in June and July.

August 31

Tens of thousands defy the ban and march on Hong Kong Island.

Police storm Prince Edward MTR station, beating passengers with batons, and pepper-spraying them. This incident becomes nearly as notorious as the July 21 thug attacks in Yuen Long. Police stonewall investigation, and the MTR refuses to release full security camera footage to the public.

September 2

Tens of thousands participate in a coordinated general strike of workers and a class boycott by university and secondary students.

September 2 to 30

On September 2, the first secondary student human chain protests are held. Over the coming month, tens of thousands students from at least 343 secondary schools will take part in human chain protests. On September 9 alone, students from 188 schools form human chains; on September 12, 47; and on eight other days in September, anywhere between three and twenty.

September 4

Chief Executive Carrie Lam announces that the extradition bill will be fully withdrawn when Legco reopens in October. This fulfills one of the protests’ five demands, the only one to met. The announcement is perceived as too little too late and has almost no effect on the protests. The timing of the announcement is likely determined by the CCP’s hope that the HK protests will end before its October 1 celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the PRC.

September 8

250,000 attend a police-approved march to the United States Consulate to call on the US to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The police terminate the march and attack protesters after some protesters vandalize nearby MTR station entrances. This becomes the last march police will approve until December 1.

September 8 to December 1

Police ban all marches. Their justification is that the probability of violence and other unlawful activity is high. In all, six applications for marches are rejected in this period. Other organizers don’t even bother to apply. Police try to prevent and attack at least nine protests in this period.

September 9 to 12

On August 31, the song, ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ is published on YouTube. From September 9 to 12, at least 22 ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ sing-along protests are held at shopping malls throughout HK. ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ quickly becomes recognized among protesters as the new HK national anthem. This is also the beginning of a trend of shopping malls as frequent sites of protest, considered safer at a time when police are attacking just about every protest and all marches are banned. In the coming period, some protesters begin to vandalize perceived pro-Communist shops in malls, and police start entering malls in pursuit.

September 14

Freedom Hong Kong crowdfunds HK $8.3 million (US$1.1million) in a matter of a few hours to publish advertisements in dozen of countries and languages around the world on October 1, the 70th anniversary of the PRC and thus CCP dictatorship. The ads will give the HK perspective on that anniversary. This is its second successful global advertising campaign after ‘Stand with Hong Kong at G20’ on June 27 and 28.

September 15

490,000 attend a banned march from Causeway Bay to Central.

September 28

200,000 attend a rally in Tamar Park commemorating the fifth anniversary of the start of the Umbrella Movement.

September 29

Solidarity protests in at least 72 cities in 20 countries mark Global Anti-Totalitarianism Day. In HK, police try to prevent a march whose organizers refused to apply for permission by attacking it with teargas, but 200,000 march in defiance. Many protesters are arrested. On October 2, 96 are charged in court with ‘riot’, superseding the trial of 44 for ‘riot’ that began on July 31 as the new largest trial in HK history. The defendants include doctors, nurses, teachers, surveyors, social workers and many students.

October 1

In Beijing, the largest military parade in PRC history marks the 70th anniversary of CCP dictatorship. In HK, protesters declare a ‘day of mourning’. 200,000 take part in a banned march from Causeway Bay to Central. Protests take place in at least thirteen different locations around HK, including Yau Ma Tei, Mong Kok, Prince Edward, Sham Shui Po, Wong Tai Sin, Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun and Sha Tin. Police attack most of them. A total of 269 people are arrested; the police fire 1,400 tear gas canisters, 900 rubber bullets, 190 beanbag rounds and 230 sponge grenades, record numbers in a single day. Six live rounds are fired. In the late afternoon, a police officer shoots an 18-year-old in the chest at point blank range, the police gunshot victim. Miraculously, he survives. He is later charged with ‘riot’ and assaulting police.

October 4

Chief Executive Carrie Lam announces a ban on face masks effective October 5. The ban prohibits all facial coverings at public gatherings. The Emergency Regulations Ordinance, enacted in the 1920s, is invoked in order to declare the ban by fiat without any legislative process. The government appears to believe the mask ban will dissuade protesters from coming out, but it has the opposite effect.

In the evening, protests against the ban take place in a dozen different areas of HK. One of the main slogans of the protests so far, ‘HK people, persist! (香港人加油)) is transformed into ‘HK people, resist!’ (香港人反抗).

In Yuen Long, an off-duty police officer shoots a 14-year-old boy in the left thigh at close range. This is the second police gunshot victim. He is arrested and charged with ‘riot’ on October 5.

In the late evening, MTR suspends all operations ‘until further notice’. The following day, dozens of shopping malls are closed.

October 6

650,000 take part in an unauthorized march from Causeway Bay to Central. 150,000 take part in an unauthorized march in central Kowloon. Both marches are against the face mask ban. Many smaller protests occur in the vicinity of the marches.

October 11

MTR re-opens all its stations after being shut for nearly a week. Legco holds its first session after extensive repairs necessitated by the damage caused by the July 1 break-in.

October 14

130,000 rally at Chater Garden to call on the US to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

October 20

350,000 take part in a banned march in central Kowloon.

October 23

Confessed murderer Chan Tong-kai is released from prison after having served 21 months of his 29-month sentence for money-laundering.

Legco formally withdraws the extradition bill that sparked the protests. The Chief Executive announced on September 4 that the bill would be withdrawn.

October 29

Pro-democracy icon Joshua Wong is the first and ultimately only candidate to be barred from running in November 24 District Council elections, on grounds that he belongs to a political party that advocates self-determination. Since Legco elections in 2016, over a dozen candidates have been disqualified on political grounds.

November 2

300,000 take part in a Fight for Autonomy rally in Victoria Park that police banned. Participants tried to circumvent the ban by designating it an election meeting, but though the gathering is peaceful, blocking no roads, and entirely within a public park, police attack it with teargas. Protests spread to various locations in central Hong Kong Island.

November 4

21-year-old Chow Tsz-lok falls in Sheung Tak car park in Tseung Kwan O where police are conducting a clearance operation. Suspicion falls on police but they deny any involvement. He is unconscious from the moment he is discovered and never regains consciousness. Link REIT, the owner of the car park, releases full security camera footage to the public. None of it shows Chow’s fall.

November 8

Chow Tsz-lok dies. Vigils are held for him at ten different locations around the city. 10,000 gather at the spot where he fell in Sheung Tak car park, Tseung Kwan O.

November 9

Seven pro-democracy Legco members are arrested in relation to an altercation in Legco over the extradition bill way back in May. The arrests echo the arrests of nine pro-democracy leaders on August 29 and 30 and come just before major protest actions called to start November 11 and District Council elections on November 24, which the government is rumored to be considering postponing or cancelling.

100,000 mourn Chow Tsz-lok at a gathering held in Tamar Park.

November 11

In response to the death of Chow Tsz-lok, protest actions labelled Operation Dawn and called to last a week kick off with transport disruptions that nearly paralyze the city and the suspension of classes at 11 universities. Police enter the campuses of three universities, including two they will later besiege, Chinese University of Hong Kong and Polytechnic University, leading to clashes with protesters. In Sai Wan Ho, a police officer shoots a 21-year-old in the stomach at point-blank range. The victim is in critical condition but eventually survives. This is the third police gunshot victim. All three were shot at close range.

Lunchtime protests are held in Central and Mong Kok, where 10,000 and 5,000 gather respectively. Many office workers join during their lunch break. These are the first of at least 82 lunchtime protests that will be held in at least 13 locations over the coming weeks, including Tai Koo, Wong Chuk Hang, Kwun Tong, Kowloon Bay, Cheung Sha Wan, Kwai Chung, San Po Kong, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui and Sha Tin.

November 12 and 13

Protesters lay roadblocks in at least 13 districts of the city. Starting in the afternoon of the 12th, Police besiege CUHK until late into the night of the 13th. The standoff centers on a bridge. Police fire hundreds of rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets. Protesters respond with petrol bombs and bricks and set fires to impede police offensives. At times, the conflict resembles war. More than 100 students are injured.

November 13

For the third straight day, much of the transport network is paralyzed. Further barricades and roadblocks are erected around HK while the campuses of PolyU, HKU, CUHK, BaptistU and CityU are fortified against police attack.

In the evening, a 15-year-old boy is hit in the head by a tear gas canister in Tin Shui Wai. He undergoes brain surgery. His is the fourth near-fatality caused by police projectiles. He will remain in a coma for more than a month, awakening on December 21. Even then, his prospects for recovery remain uncertain.

November 17 to 29

Police begin to lay siege to PolyU. By late evening, they have surrounded the whole campus and cordoned it off. They threaten to storm it using lethal force. Hundreds are trapped inside. The siege will last for a total of 12 days, with hundreds arrested and hundreds of others escaping by abseiling from a bridge, going through the sewer system, and other means.

November 18

55,000 protesters in several areas near PolyU attempt to break the police siege but are repeatedly beaten back. By evening, police go on the offensive, conducting mass arrests. On November 20, 213 of those arrested are charged with ‘riot’ in six different courthouses around the city. This is the largest trial in HK history, superseding the trial of 96 for ‘riot’ that started on October 2.

The High Court rules the HK government ban on face masks at protests is unconstitutional. The government later announces it will appeal the ruling. Whatever the outcome, the face mask ban has had virtually no effect on people wearing masks at protests and is perceived as simply another way the regime is stripping away HK people’s civil liberties.

November 24

Pro-democracy candidates win a landslide victory in District Council elections, capturing 389 of 452 seats and gaining control of 17 of HK’s 18 District Councils. The turnout of over 71 percent is a record in any elections ever held in HK. The result shows overwhelming majority support for the protests and condemnation of the government and police.

November 27

The US President signs the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the PROTECT Hong Kong Act into law. This is the first concrete step taken by a foreign government in support of the HK protests.

November 28

100,000 gather in Edinburgh Place to hold a rally of ‘Thanksgiving’ to the US for passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the PROTECT Hong Kong Act.

December 1

380,000 people march from Tsim Sha Tsui to Hung Hom in the first authorized march since September 8. In spite of having approved the march, police attack marchers with teargas. Clashes later ensue in Tsim Sha Tsui, Whampoa and Mong Kok.

December 8

800,000 take part in a march from Victoria Park to Central organized by Civil Human Rights Front. It is the first protest of any kind organized by the nonviolent CHRF to be approved by police since August 17, when a rally was approved but a march banned. The protest marks six months since the start of the protests on June 9 and International Human Rights Day on December 10. Its purpose is to advocate for democracy and human rights in HK.

December 19

Hong Kong police freeze more than HK$70 belonging to Spark Alliance and arrest four members of the group for money-laundering. The money was donated by ordinary HK people to a fund to help arrested, prosecuted and injured protesters. The police actions are interpreted as an attempt to crack down on the movement by going after its funding, which is substantial. In all, various groups assisting protesters have raised more than HK$200 million, with 612 Humanitarian Fund and Spark Alliance being the biggest.

2020

January 1

More than 1.03 million people march from Victoria Park to Central in the fourth protest of over one million. Though the march is approved and almost entirely peaceful, police attack protesters and terminate the march, arresting hundreds.

January 19

150,000 attend a ‘Universal Siege on Communism’ rally in Chater Garden and Chater Road. The rally organizer originally applied for permission for a march, but that was denied. Though approved and almost entirely peaceful, police attack protesters, teargas and terminate the rally, and arrest the rally organizer.

January 21 to 25

After the government bans stalls selling dry goods (as opposed to flowers) at Chinese New Year’s fairs it runs in order to prevent political groups from having stalls, about a dozen pro-democracy New Year’s fairs are set up across the city. They sell protest-themed merchandise and promote pro-democracy causes.

January 23

The first protest is held against the government handling of the coronavirus, in particular its refusal to take adequate precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus from the PRC. In the next month, at least 38 coronavirus-related protests are held, most calling for the closure of the border with the PRC or opposing government designation of particular sites as coronavirus quarantine centres or treatment clinics without sufficient participation of the community in decision-making.

January 25

Chief Executive Carrie Lam declares the coronavirus outbreak an emergency but refuses to close the border with the PRC despite many health experts and 80 percent of HK people advocating border closure. She says it would be ‘inappropriate and impractical’, later adding it would be ‘discriminatory’ and ‘stigmatizing’ and would go against WHO recommendations that travel restrictions not be imposed. A month later, on February 24, the government announces it will bar arrivals from South Korea (except for HK residents).

January 28

The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, one of the at least 135 new pro-democracy unions since June 2019, announces that 15,000 members have now joined and threatens to go on strike if the government doesn’t close the border with the PRC and ensure adequate provisions for frontline medical personnel and patients.

February 3

An initial five-day strike of Hospital Authority workers begins with a ‘soft strike’ of non-emergency workers. On February 4, all other striking workers join in, approximately 7,000 in all. Along with protests and diverse civil society groups, the strike pressures the government to take additional measures to fight the coronavirus epidemic and avoid its spread in HK, including the closure of all ports of entry from the PRC except the airport and two overland crossings. It is not the full border closure most have demanded, but it is better than before. Arrivals from the PRC drop signficantly in coming days. At the end of the week, workers vote to return to work.

Kong Tsung-gan / 江松澗

Written by

Author of ‘Umbrella: A Political Tale from Hong Kong’ and ‘As long as there is resistance, there is hope: Essays on the Hong Kong freedom struggle…’

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