After a period of movement abeyance since the Umbrella Movement, millions of Hong Kong citizens took to the streets in summer 2019 to protest against a proposed extradition bill that would allow the Hong Kong authorities to extradite its citizens to mainland China. Initially calling for the withdrawal of the impending bill, the mass protests soon evolved into a prolonged and city-wide movement targeting police abuse of power and seeking political reforms. Using data collected from onsite surveys along with population survey results, this article offers a rich descriptive account of the origins and characteristics of this momentous movement. We first examine how the protests unexpectedly emerged despite the absence of favorable conditions amidst a declining trend of political efficacy. We then illustrate several core characteristics of the protests through the survey data: first, protesters were motivated by a coherent set of demands that focused on police powers and the unrepresentative political system; second, they are self-mobilized and technologically-enabled, showing strong alignment with the leaderless ethics of the movement; and third, they displayed a tremendous level of solidarity unseen in previous protests, which provided the momentum for escalation and radicalization. Our findings indicate that despite some basic continuities with past trajectories, political activism has undergone a profound evolution under the authoritarian tightening in post-handover Hong Kong.
|Number of pages||32|
|Publication status||Published - Nov 2019|