Our features in 2021 documented Hong Kong’s transformation under the shadow of the Beijing-enacted national security law. We spoke with people who left the city for the UK, filmmakers and book publishers who grappled with censorship fears, and local and mainland Chinese Wikipedia administrators fighting to set the narrative of key events in the 2019 protests.

We also told the story of Hong Kong’s diminishing manufacturing sector, siu mai fanatics who paid tribute to their favourite street food by launching its own encyclopaedia, and couples experimenting with the controversial lifestyle of polyamory.

1. Exclusive: Inside the Hong Kong govt’s multi-million dollar US lobbying operation

The HKETO held frequent business events in the US. Photo: HEKTO Washington DC via Flickr.

As pro-democracy figures face ongoing criticism over their connections to powerful figures in Washington, an investigation by HKFP revealed the extent to which the Hong Kong government used its considerable financial clout – and latitude granted under the Basic Law – to fund an extensive lobbying effort in the United States.

2. Skin in the game: Hong Kong protesters facing security law see banned slogan tattoos as ‘last inch of freedom’

Eugene’s tattoo featuring the banned protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.” Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters Eugene and Hong are determined to keep their tattoos depicting the now-illegal slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.” They see their skin as the “last inch of freedom” remaining under the Beijing-enacted national security law.

3. How directors, distributors and devotees are struggling to keep Hong Kong cinema alive

Golden Scene cinema in Kennedy Town. File photo: Louise Delmotte/HKFP.

The national security law has created major uncertainties for film-makers: “I just wanted to tell a story. I didn’t know it would become illegal,” documentary maker Nora Lam told HKFP.

4. Lifeline letters: the Hong Kong activists ensuring no jailed protester is forgotten

Katie Cheung (pseudonym). Photo: Joyce Leung/HKFP.

The letter-writing volunteers are known as Hong Kong’s “Masters of Letters” for their dedication to making sure imprisoned protesters don’t end up like “dong sau juk hai condom”, meaning to treat protesters like condoms — disposable and thrown away after use.

5. Wikipedia wars: How Hongkongers and mainland Chinese are battling to set the narrative

A Wikipedia article on the July 21, 2019 Yuen Long MTR attacks. Photo: Selina Cheng/HKFP.

As Hongkongers reckon with the closure of one of the city’s mainstream news outlets, drastic political changes and a sweeping national security law, the city’s keyboard warriors on Wikipedia also came under pressure.

6. Hong Kong’s community newspapers scramble to overcome loss of district council support

Zaap Yau is a community newspaper based in Yau Tong. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Locally-focused print publications spotlight grassroots issues instead of hard politics, and reach out to elderly communities in Hong Kong. But will they survive the demise of the district councils?

7. Hong Kong lawyers create court database of protest-related cases in bid to safeguard rule of law

The Compendium Project. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

A group of young Hong Kong lawyers created a database of magistrates’ rulings in protest-related cases in a bid to safeguard the rule of law, amid unprecedented public interest in court hearings after thousands were prosecuted over the 2019 unrest.

8. Test balloon, warning shot, attack dog: Is Hong Kong witnessing a rebirth of the ‘mainland mouthpiece’?

Wen Wi Po’s May 14, 2020 front page accusing Hans Yeung of inciting violence and Hong Kong independence. Photo: Wen Wei Po screenshot.

State-backed media attacks on a Hong Kong official in 2020 bore all the hallmarks of a planned and coordinated campaign, ex-Wen Wei Po deputy editor Ching Cheong told HKFP. They also pointed to a resurgence in the influence of mainland mouthpieces in the city.

9. ‘Freedom is most important’: The Hong Kong families gambling on a new life in Britain

(From left) Coby’s one-year-old grandson, her daughter Candy, Coby and her six-year-old grandson look out on a view in the UK, where they now live Photo: Supplied.

At 63, Coby is decades older than many of the Hongkongers fleeing to the UK. Her three-generation family’s decision to exit the city reflects the deep societal rupture triggered by Beijing’s national security law, which has led to mass arrests and a swingeing crackdown on freedom of expression.

10. Loving one and many: the world of Hong Kong polyamorists

Leonard and Salome. Photo: Supplied.

Hongkongers experimenting with polyamory — couples who give each other permission to simultaneously pursue other romantic or even sexual relationships outside their own — shared with HKFP intimate details of their controversial lifestyle.

11. Small businesses fear a struggle to survive when Hong Kong factory estates are knocked down for housing

Mr. Lau holding a yehu, a Chinese string instrument made of coconut shells. Lau is a tenant at Sui Fai Factory Estate, now facing eviction and demolition to make way for public housing. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Many small businesses fear they will struggle to survive after the Hong Kong government announced plans to demolish four public factory estates with over 2,000 tenants to build public housing.

12. Love at first bite: Hong Kong’s humble street food inspires an encyclopaedia

Hong Kong Siumaipedia. Photo: Idea Publication.

Hong Kong’s iconic yellow and white siu mai dumpling, which for decades has been a satisfying go-to street food for those in search of a quick bite, received a fitting tribute – its own encyclopaedia.

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  1. ‘Uncle Roger’ apologises and deletes video featuring fellow YouTube star who criticised China
  2. HKFP Guide: How to apply for Hong Kong’s new HK$5,000 spending vouchers
  3. Chinese journalist jailed over Covid reports ‘close to death’
  4. HKFP Guide: Hong Kong Covid-19 vaccination lucky draws you can enter now
  5. Why is Taiwan not called Taiwan at the Olympics?
  6. Up to 5 years prison for attending Tiananmen Massacre vigil, Hong Kong gov’t warns – 1 year jail for publicising it
  7. Disney+ appears to censor episode of The Simpsons in Hong Kong referencing Tiananmen Massacre
  8. Internet backlash against Fila sportswear after Hong Kong badminton player seen drenched in sweat
  9. University of Hong Kong orders removal of Tiananmen Massacre statue after 24 years, artist ‘shocked’
  10. Hong Kong park empty for the first time in 32 years as police surround venue to prevent banned Tiananmen Massacre vigil
  11. ‘Snubbed’ YouTuber urges ‘Uncle Roger’ comic Nigel Ng to research Communist Party after joint vid deleted over China criticism
  12. Hong Kong imposes first lockdown in Covid-hit Jordan – 10,000 residents affected, 3,000 personnel deployed
  13. Hong Kong expected to hoist typhoon signal Monday evening, weather to worsen ahead of public holiday
  14. HKFP Guide: Receiving a Covid-19 vaccine in Hong Kong
  15. China will ‘no longer recognise’ UK-issued BNO passports for Hongkongers
  16. In Pictures: Tears and selfies at airport as Hongkongers bid a permanent farewell to troubled city
  17. Exclusive: Wikipedia bans 7 mainland Chinese power users over ‘infiltration and exploitation’ in unprecedented clampdown
  18. Is the party finally over for Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong?
  19. Hong Kong to open up Covid-19 vaccine programme to 30-59 year olds
  20. Covid-19: Two in critical condition and two more deaths within days of Sinovac jab – Health Dep’t to investigate if vaccine link
  21. Two more deaths, another nine temporary facial paralysis cases after Covid vaccinations
  22. Hong Kong hoists T8 storm signal and shuts down, as Tropical Cyclone Kompasu set to batter city
  23. Hong Kong men’s foil fencer Edgar Cheung bags historic gold medal at Tokyo Olympics
  24. ‘Alarm bells rang’: How a Lamma Island resident alerted police after realising ‘drinking partner’ was murder suspect on-the-run
  25. In Pictures: ‘Everyone loves it!’ The adventures of an out-of-context Hong Kong taxi in the UK

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.