In 2020, Hong Kong saw four waves of coronavirus infections while authorities’ cracked down on dissent following Beijing’s imposition of the national security law. Prominent pro-democracy activists have been imprisoned while others have fled. AFP images chart the city’s journey through this tumultuous year.

Pro-democracy protesters gather in Victoria Park in the Causeway Bay area ahead of a planned pro-democracy march in Hong Kong on January 1, 2020. – Hong Kong was readying for a massive pro-democracy rally on January 1 after seeing in the New Year with an evening of peaceful protests that morphed into tear gas-choked clashes between hardcore demonstrators and police. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP
A baby wearing a protective face mask is pushed by a woman as they arrive from Shenzhen to Hong Kong at Lo Wu MTR station, hours before the closing of the Lo Wu border crossing in Hong Kong, on February 3, 2020, amid an outbreak of a deadly SARS-like virus which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. – Hong Kong announced it was closing all but two land crossings with the Chinese mainland on February 3 to slow the spread of a deadly new coronavirus as medics staged strikes calling for the border to be completely sealed. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP
A woman wears a plastic water bottle with a cutout to cover her face, as she walks on a footbridge in Hong Kong on January 31, 2020, as a preventative measure following a virus outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. – The World Health Organization, which initially downplayed the severity of a disease that has now killed 170 nationwide, warned all governments to be “on alert” as it weighed whether to declare a global health emergency. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP
Members of a Chinese lion dance team wear face masks during a performance in Mong Kok district of Hong Kong on February 1, 2020. – China faced deepening isolation over its coronavirus epidemic as the death toll soared to 259, with the United States and Australia leading a growing list of nations to impose extraordinary Chinese travel bans. Photo: Philip Fong/AFP
Representatives of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA) and other activists hold placards near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on February 5, 2020, calling for the full closure of border crossings from mainland China. – The world has a “window of opportunity” to halt the spread of a deadly new virus, global health experts said, as the number of people infected in China jumped to 24,000 and millions more were ordered to stay indoors. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP
Shopping trollies are seen near bare supermarket shelves, usually stocked with toilet paper and kitchen rolls, in Hong Kong on February 6, 2020. – Panic buyers in Hong Kong have descended on supermarkets to snap up toilet paper after false online claims of shortages, prompting authorities to appeal for calm as the city’s seven million residents fret about a deadly coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Philip Fong/AFP
This picture taken on February 19, 2020 shows materials being fed into machinery that produces surgical masks in a factory in Hong Kong. – Faced with shortages in the midst of a virus outbreak, Hong Kongers have started making their own face masks, from professional factories to seamstresses churning out coverings on sewing machines. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP
A passenger wears a face mask and other protective gear as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus after arriving at Hong Kong’s international airport on March 19, 2020. – On March 18, Hong Kong authorities began ordering all arrivals from overseas to wear electronic bracelets, connected to an app to mark your location, and two weeks self-quarantine. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP
Customers sit in a cafe where social distancing between patrons has been enforced by placing white tape over unavailable tables and chairs as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Hong Kong on March 31, 2020. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP
Former lawmaker and pro-democracy activist Martin Lee (C) leaves the Central District police station in Hong Kong on April 18, 2020, after being arrested and accused of organising and taking part in an unlawful assembly in August 2019. – Police in Hong Kong carried out a sweeping operation against high-profile democracy campaigners on April 18, arresting 14 activists on charges related to massive protests that rocked the Asian financial hub last year. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP
Protesters and bystanders wear face masks, as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, during a ‘Lunch With You’ rally in Hong Kong on April 24, 2020. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
A young boy uses his foot scooter as he speeds along a line of water filled police barriers lining the vicinity around the government headquarters in Hong Kong on May 5, 2020. – Hong Kong on May 5 announced plans to ease major social distancing measures, including reopening schools, cinemas, bars and beauty parlours after the Chinese territory largely halted local transmission of the deadly coronavirus. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP
Pro-democracy protesters wear face masks, as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, as they display a banner calling for the city’s independence at a shopping mall in Hong Kong on May 9, 2020. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP
Police officers patrol the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront where protests by pro-democracy demonstrators calling for the city’s independence were scheduled to take place in Hong Kong on May 10, 2020. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam leaves after a press conference following the release by the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) — Hong Kong’s police watchdog — of a report into the handling of last year’s democracy protests in Hong Kong on May 15, 2020. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP
Pan-democratic politician Lam Cheuk-ting (top C) throws papers torn from the Legco rulebook during a scuffle between other pro-democracy lawmakers and pro Beijing lawmakers at the House Committee’s election of chairpersons, presided by pro-Beijing lawmaker Chan Kin-por (not seen) at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on May 18, 2020. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP
Pro-democracy protesters are arrested by police in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong on May 24, 2020, ahead of planned protests against a proposal to enact new security legislation in Hong Kong. – The proposed legislation is expected to ban treason, subversion and sedition, and follows repeated warnings from Beijing that it will no longer tolerate dissent in Hong Kong, which was shaken by months of massive, sometimes violent anti-government protests last year. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP.
Riot police detain a group of people during a protest in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong on May 27, 2020, as the city’s legislature debates over a law that bans insulting China’s national anthem. – Hong Kong police placed a dragnet around the financial hub’s legislature on May 27 and fired pepper-ball rounds in the commercial district as they tried to stamp out protests against a bill banning insults to China’s national anthem. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP.
Activists hold a candlelit remembrance at Victoria Park in Hong Kong on June 4, 2020, after an annual vigil that traditionally takes place in the park to mark the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown was banned on public health grounds because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Photo: ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP.
Members of the fire brigade perform tests in the main chamber of the Legislative Council after pan-democrat lawmakers hurled an odorous liquid during the third reading of the national anthem bill in Hong Kong on June 4, 2020, ahead of a vote over a law that bans insulting China’s national anthem. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP.
The Chinese (front) and Hong Kong flags are released during a flag-raising ceremony to mark the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain early morning in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020. – Hong Kong marks the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China on July 1 under the glare of a new national security law imposed by Beijing, with protests banned and the city’s cherished freedoms looking increasingly fragile. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
In this picture taken on July 28, 2020, a woman walks past a poster for the National Security Law in Hong Kong. – Hong Kong faces no respite from Beijing’s crackdown on dissent after a year that saw its status as a free speech bastion collapse under a security law that has radically transformed the city. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
In this picture taken on July 6, 2020, protesters hold up blank papers during a demonstration in a mall in Hong Kong, in response to a new national security law introduced in the city which makes political views, slogans and signs advocating Hong Kong’s independence or liberation illegal. – Hong Kong faces no respite from Beijing’s crackdown on dissent after a year that saw its status as a free speech bastion collapse under a security law that has radically transformed the city. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP.
Blank notes are seen on a “Lennon Wall” inside a pro-democracy restaurant in Hong Kong on July 3, 2020, in response to a new national security law introduced in the city which makes political views, slogans and signs advocating Hong Kong’s independence or liberation illegal. – Hong Kongers are finding creative ways to voice dissent after Beijing blanketed the city in a new security law and police began making arrests for people displaying now forbidden political slogans. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP.
Workers (L) measure out an area for signage outside the front of the Metropark hotel in Causeway Bay on July 7, 2020, the hotel which is being retrofitted and turned into office for safeguarding national security of the People’s Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. – China opened a new office for its security agents to operate openly in Hong Kong for the first time under a tough new law, transforming a hotel into the force’s headquarters. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP.
People hold up copies of the Apple Daily as they protest for press freedom inside a mall in Hong Kong on August 11, 2020, a day after authorities conducted a search of the newspaper’s headquarters after the company’s founder Jimmy Lai was arrested under the new national security law. – Hong Kongers rushed to buy pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily on August 11 in a show of support for its owner, who was arrested a day earlier as police rounded up critics of China. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP
A swab sample is collected from a man by a medical worker at a makeshift testing site for COVID-19 coronavirus infections at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Hong Kong on September 1, 2020. – Hong Kong launched a mass coronavirus testing scheme on September 1, but calls for millions to take up the offer have been undermined by deep distrust of the government following China’s crushing of the city’s democracy movement. Photo: Anthony Kwan/AFP.
In this picture taken on November 11, 2020, pro-democracy lawmakers join hands at the start of a press conference in a Legislative Council office in Hong Kong, after four of them were stripped of their seats immediately, after China gave the city the power to disqualify politicians deemed a threat to national security. – Hong Kong faces no respite from Beijing’s crackdown on dissent after a year that saw its status as a free speech bastion collapse under a security law that has radically transformed the city. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
Four families and members of the Save12HKers campaign group prepare to fly balloons towards Yantian, in mainland China (back) at Crooked Island, in Hong Kong on November 21, 2020, the closest point to Yantian District Detention Centre where 12 Hong Kong people have been held for three months after trying to flee the city to Taiwan in August. Photo: Peter Parks/AFP.
Pro-democracy supporters show signs for pro-democracy activists Agnes Chow, Ivan Lam and Joshua Wong outside court in Hong Kong on December 2, 2020, after the three were sentenced after pleading guilty to inciting a rally during pro-democracy protests in 2019, deepening the crackdown against Beijing’s critics. Photo: Peter Parks/AFP.

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