Skip to main content




Hong Kong: A timeline of mounting protests

Hong Kong: A timeline of mounting protests

Police fire tear gas at protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Jul 2, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)

HONG KONG: Protesters ransacked Hong Kong's parliament Monday (Jul 1), marking the latest in a string of pro-democracy fight-backs that have rocked the semi-autonomous city since its handover to China.

The former British colony was handed back to China on Jul 1, 1997 but benefits from a "One Country, Two Systems" policy that allows it to retain certain key liberties, such as freedom of speech and an independent judiciary, until 2047.

After unprecedented street protests in 2014, demands for change were reignited in February this year over a bill that would have allowed extraditions to China.

READ: As it happened: Hong Kong police fire tear gas after protesters trash legislature

A police officer fires a baton round outside the Legislative Council building, after protesters stormed the building on the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Here is an overview of recent demonstrations that have hit Hong Kong:


About half a million people marched against an attempt to introduce a national security law that critics feared would curtail free speech.

It was the first mass demonstration movement since the handover.

The bill was eventually shelved.


Tens of thousands of mainly young demonstrators, many of them school children, surrounded the government complex for 10 days to protest an order for schools to teach "Moral and National Education" classes.

The curriculum praised China's communist and nationalist history while criticising republicanism and democracy movements.

It was eventually abandoned.

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong poses during an interview with AFP outside the government headquarters. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)

Some of the protest leaders, such as then 15-year-old Joshua Wong, went on to become leading democracy advocates.

READ: Joshua Wong: Poster child of Hong Kong's 'Umbrella Movement'


For two months in late 2014, tens of thousands of protesters paralysed parts of the city with mass student-led demonstrations and sit-ins to demand reforms including the right to elect the city's leader.

There were clashes as police used pepper spray and tear gas against protesters, who used umbrellas to protect themselves, leading to the name Umbrella Movement.

Police dismantled the main pro-democracy site in December.

The movement failed to win any concessions and many of its leaders were imprisoned.


In February Hong Kong's government announced plans for a bill that would allow, for the first time, extraditions to mainland China.

There were fears the law would tighten Beijing's grip on civil society and allow it to pursue its political enemies in Hong Kong.

Tens of thousands of people marched against it on Apr 28 in one of the biggest demonstrations since the Umbrella Movement.

Protesters make their way through the crowded Causeway Bay and Wanchai shopping and residential districts to Hong Kong's parliament. (Photo: AFP/Dale De La Rey)

Hong Kong's government made concessions on May 30, saying the extradition law would only apply to cases involving a potential jail term of at least seven years.

On Jun 9, more than one million people, according to organisers, took to the streets in the biggest demonstration since the return to Chinese rule.

The police, who made 19 arrests, put the turnout at 240,000.


On Jun 12, a second reading of the bill was delayed after huge crowds rallied, blocking major roads and attempting to storm parliament.

Police used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds in the worst clashes since the 1997 handover, leaving nearly 80 people injured.

Violent clashes broke out in Hong Kong on June 12 as police tried to stop protesters storming the city's parliament AFP/DALE DE LA REY
Tear gas is fired by police after protesters try to storm Hong Kong's parliament. (Photo: CNA reader)

On Jun 15, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced the suspension of the bill.

But there was a fresh demonstration the following day calling for its full withdrawal.

Organisers said two million people took part. Police put the figure at 338,000.


Thousands of people took to the streets again for the annual Jul 1 march to mark Hong Kong's return to China, calling for greater democratic freedoms.

Protesters defaced the Hong Kong emblem after they stormed parliament AFP/Philip FONG

Late in the evening hundreds of young, masked protesters broke into parliament after clashes with police and ransacked the building.

READ: Hong Kong leader condemns 'extremely violent' storming of parliament

Once inside they daubed its walls with anti-government graffiti, tore down portraits of the city's leaders, hoisted a British colonial-era flag in the main chamber and sprayed the city crest with black paint.

Police fired tear gas and baton-charged protesters, retaking control of the building hours later.

Source: AFP/aa


Also worth reading