Protests erupted in June 2019 across Hong Kong over a now-axed extradition bill. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment.

Explainer: The hidden differences between Hong Kong police rifles

The infamous AR15 is a regular sight at Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, appearing sporadically from last April, before being deployed en masse during the police siege of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and routinely ever since. There is much misunderstanding about this rifle, and its use by the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF). Largely this […]

Explainer: Hong Kong police top brass embroiled in property scandals

The Hong Kong police force has come under public scrutiny after three senior officers were alleged to have broken land and housing laws. The controversy surrounded Rupert Dover, a British-born officer who joined the Hong Kong police force in 1988. Dover became a controversial figure last June for his highly-visible role as a commander in […]

Explainer: Why China-made tear gas is more dangerous

It is no secret that the Chinese produced CS (tear gas) munitions recently employed by the Hong Kong police are more dangerous than the munitions produced in the West and employed at the beginning of the democracy protests. But what is less known is exactly why this is the case. The real danger of CS […]

Explainer: Beijing’s 5-day crackdown on Hong Kong’s opposition during covid-19

With world’s attention focused on the coronavirus pandemic and protesters off the streets, Chinese and Hong Kong authorities stepped up their efforts to crack down on the pro-democracy movement in the semi-autonomous territory. Over a span of just five days, the city saw its legislature, judiciary, legal system and civil society come under threat. HKFP […]

Explainer: What can Hong Kong’s democrats do with their new District Council majority?

Hong Kong democrats gained control of 17 out of the city’s 18 district councils after a landslide win in Sunday’s election. The race, held every four years, took place amid months of unrest and pro-democracy demonstrations, and it remains the territory’s only truly democratic election. It was an unprecedented result as – before the opposition captured […]

Explainer: Aggressive policing creates rifts in Hong Kong’s civil service, with firefighters caught in fallout

Ever since 2012, when the polling unit at the University of Hong Kong started collecting data, the Fire Services Department (FSD) has always been the city’s most popular disciplined force. Firefighters have been a regular presence on the frontlines of the months-long protest movement, dousing burning barricades, stores and Molotov cocktails. By and large, they […]

Explainer: ‘Renovation’, ‘decoration’ and ‘fire magic’ – the businesses targeted by Hong Kong’s hit-and-run protesters

With the Hong Kong protests well into the 18th week, frontline protesters have gone from blocking roads to “hit and run” vandalism. Over the months, the mass demonstrations against the now-scrapped extradition bill have morphed into a wider movement for democracy and against Beijing with little end in sight. But protesters are not simply trashing stores […]

Explainer: ‘The Communist Party’s Railway’ – How Hong Kong’s once-respected MTR fell afoul of protesters

Hong Kong’s metro system has long been lauded for its world-class efficiency, affordability and enviable safety record. In the early days of the city’s summer of dissent, sparked by an ill-fated extradition bill, demonstrators would form long, snaking queues for MTR ticket machines and even leave cash for others to buy single journey tickets to […]

Explainer: Know your rights at Hong Kong protests: FAQ with the Progressive Lawyers Group

By Jason Y. Ng and Billy Li from Progressive Lawyers Group Since the anti-extradition bill movement erupted in June, mass demonstrations have evolved from an annual exercise on 1 July to a weekly—even nightly—occurrence. In response to escalating violence, the police are increasingly issuing objection letters to public assemblies on the grounds of public safety. […]

Explainer: How Hong Kong’s ‘self-learning, open source’ protest movement decides what to do next

Hong Kong’s leaderless protest movement has been described as having “self-learning artificial intelligence” owing to how quickly demonstrators learn and react when on the streets. Meanwhile, the Chinese University’s Francis Lee has said the protests mimic open source technology, wherein a central code is released and another person easily picks it up to develop their own […]

Explainer: How frontline protesters’ toolkit has evolved over Hong Kong’s long summer of dissent

The tools, equipment, clothing and communication methods used by Hong Kong’s anti-extradition law protesters have captured headlines around the world. Protesters have often hit the streets in “full gear,” donning black clothes, goggles, gas masks and helmets, among other items. They are able to form makeshift barricades within minutes, pass on messages within seconds, and […]

Explainer: Police crowd control gear used during Hong Kong’s latest protest clashes

Since June, Hong Kong police have cracked down on anti-extradition bill protests using a variety of crowd control weapons and ammunition – some used for the first time in local law enforcement. Commissioner Stephen Lo told the press that, on June 12, officers fired around 150 tear gas canisters, “several” rounds of rubber bullets, and 20 […]

Explainer: The Yuen Long mob attacks and Hong Kong’s triads – why do some consider the New Territories ‘lawless’?

On July 21, an armed mob indiscriminately attacked returning demonstrators, journalists and civilians at Yuen Long MTR station in one of the most violent episodes of Hong Kong’s anti-extradition bill protests. Hong Kong’s reputation as one of the safest cities in the world has repeatedly been cited as a reason for opposing the now-suspended bill. […]

Explainer: The conflicting messages behind protesters’ use of the colonial Hong Kong flag

It was a moment destined for international front pages: Hong Kong protesters draping the colonial-era flag – emblazoned with the Union Jack and a dragon and lion motif – over the desk of the Legislative Council President. On July 1, hundreds of demonstrators broke into the legislature at around 9pm, quickly gaining access to the chamber where […]

The Five Demands

Explainer: Hong Kong’s Five Demands – halt the characterisation of protests as ‘riots’

After hundreds of thousands of people marched on June 9, the Hong Kong government decided to go ahead with its extradition law plans despite widespread opposition. Three days later, the Legislative Council was supposed to debate the ill-fated bill. But it never happened, as protesters surrounded the legislature, forcing the meeting to end prematurely. That […]

Explainer: Hong Kong’s Five Demands – universal suffrage

The protests that have transformed Hong Kong in 2019 have broadened to become a call for democracy – but it was not always that way. In June, protesters’ fury was mostly directed towards Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the ill-fated extradition bill and the police. It was not until the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) – […]

Explainer: Hong Kong’s Five Demands – amnesty for all arrested protesters

In order to prevent the Legislative Council debate on the controversial extradition bill on June 12, protesters surrounded the complex and clashed with police. Some threw bottles and metal bars at officers as police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and sponge grenades. At least 39 people were arrested over clashes on suspicion of rioting, […]

Explainer: Hong Kong’s Five Demands – an independent investigation into police behaviour

On June 12, Chief Executive Carrie Lam spoke to reporters about “an issue of major public concern,” which had led her to set up an independent inquiry with wide-reaching powers. “Given the severity of this particular incident… going for a statutory commission with all the powers that I have mentioned is an appropriate approach,” Lam […]

Explainer: Hong Kong’s Five Demands – withdrawal of the extradition bill

On October 23, Hong Kong’s security chief John Lee officially withdrew the extradition bill from the legislature – but by then it was too late. What began as opposition to an ill-conceived law had escalated into a citywide pro-democracy movement, with millions taking to the streets over the course of six months. The bill, which was […]