Hong Kong’s Summer of Uprising: From Anti-Extradition to Anti-Authoritarian Protests

Francis L. F. LEE, Samson YUEN, Gary TANG, Edmund W. CHENG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

156 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalChina Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

This work was substantially supported by two grants from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project No. UGC/ECS/23600918 and Project No. UGC/ECS/22608518). We would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Dennis K.K. Leung, Ms. Rachel S.M. Wong, Ms. Wendy L.Y. Leung, Mr. Hans Tse, Ms. Cheryl S.Y. Shea, Ms. Megan M.Y. Chick, Mr. Hiu Fung Chung, and numerous student helpers for their research support. We would also like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


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