The 2019 Hong Kong protests, explained in 30 seconds

Chris McGrath/Getty ImagesA pro-democracy protester walks in front of a burning barricade during clashes with police in Wan Chai on October 01, 2019 in Hong Kong, China.

What’s been happening in Hong Kong?

A proposed extradition bill has led to months of protests in Hong Kong, and major US companies have been connected – most notably the NBA, Activision Blizzard, and Apple.

Allana Akhtar contributed to this report.


Here’s a 30-second explanation of what’s going on:

Tyrone Siu/ReutersRiot police stand guard during a demonstration on China’s National Day, in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, China, on October 1, 2019.

Protests erupted in Hong Kong in June over a proposed extradition bill by which Hong Kong residents would be tried in mainland China. Hong Kong is a semiautonomous region of China with its own legal system; the proposed bill would have changed that arrangement.

Though the bill was pulled in September, student-led protests continue. Protests have since grown to encompass general displeasure with the current government and a call for democratic changes.


US companies, executives, and even cartoons have gotten involved in the protests

Comedy Central‘South Park’ season 23, episode 2, ‘Band in China’
  • NBA: General manager of the Houston Rockets Daryl Morey, tweeted his support of the Hong Kong protests. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in response to backlash that he would not censor statements by NBA employees. Consequently, all of the NBA’s official Chinese partners have suspended ties with the league.
  • Activision Blizzard: The video game company suspended esports player Chung Ng Wai (“Blitzchung”) for voicing support of the protests, saying he violated its rule against players coming into public dispute, offending the public, and/or damaging Blizzard’s image.
  • Apple: HKMap Live, an app that allowed Hong Kong protesters to track the police, was approved by Apple on October 9 and then removed from the App Store within 24 hours. Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the decision in a memo to Apple employees, writing that the app was being used to “maliciously target individual officers for violence.”
  • “South Park”: China banned the Comedy Central cartoon after its 299th episode, “Band in China,” aired on October 2. It mocked Hollywood’s submission to the country. In response,“South Park” declared “F—” the Chinese government” in its 300th episode, and the show’s creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker published a mock apology.

Now, here’s a 5-minute explanation of the events since June, via a timeline of our past coverage:

ReutersPolice fire tear gas at anti-extradition bill protesters during clashes in Sham Shui Po in Hong Kong on August 14.

October 11


China and the NBA are coming to blows over a pro-Hong Kong tweet. Here’s why.

Furious fans are firing back at Blizzard by using one of its characters in anti-China memes after the gaming company punished a pro-gamer for defending the Hong Kong protests


October 10


Apple is getting slammed by both Republicans and Democrats for pulling an app used by Hong Kong protesters to monitor police activity

All of the NBA’s partners in China have suspended ties as the firestorm over Daryl Morey’s Hong Kong tweet heats up

A coach in Blizzard’s Overwatch League was told to delete a tweet condemning the company for censoring an esports competitor from Hong Kong


October 9

Blizzard is under scrutiny from lawmakers, gamers, and maybe even its own employees after punishing a ‘Hearthstone’ competitor who voiced his support for protesters in Hong Kong

‘Fortnite’ creator says it won’t punish players for speaking out about politics, as Blizzard faces backlash and calls for a boycott after banning competitor for supporting Hong Kong protests


October 5-8


A 14-year-old boy was shot as violence flares after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam imposes a mask ban on protesters

Hong Kong protests turn violent following announcement of mask ban under emergency powers

The Taiwan flag emoji has disappeared from the latest iPhone keyboard for users in Hong Kong and Macau


October 4

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announces a ban on anything that covers a person’s face as violence in the city’s protests intensifies


October 3

An 18-year-old protester who was shot in the chest at point-blank range by Hong Kong police will be charged with assault

A reporter was permanently blinded after being shot in the face with a rubber bullet during Hong Kong protests, lawyer says


October 2

Hong Kong Police say shooting an 18-year-old student protester in the chest was ‘reasonable and lawful’ as he recovers in hospital

Barricades, human chains, and battling tear gas: We followed Hong Kong activists through the city’s most turbulent protests yet

Hong Kong protesters say they’re prepared to fight for democracy ‘until we win or we die’


October 1


Hong Kong protests escalate dramatically as demonstrators use acid on the police and officers shoot a man in the chest

Trump congratulated China’s dictators while police brutally cracked down on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong

Hong Kong police claim without providing evidence that hardcore groups of protesters have called for ‘murdering’ police

Photos show escalating violence in the Hong Kong protests as China celebrates 70 years of communist rule


September 22

Hong Kong readies for more protests after night of clashes


September 15-16

‘He’s a businessman’: One of Hong Kong’s most prominent activists is urging Trump to back the pro-democracy movement and prevent a ‘nightmare’ for the world economy

Hong Kong’s leading pro-democracy activist is urging US lawmakers to stop exporting tear gas made in Pennsylvania to Hong Kong police


September 8

Thousands of Hong Kong protesters are waving American flags and asking Donald Trump for help


September 4


Hong Kong’s government scraps the incendiary extradition bill that has sparked months of protests

Hong Kong stocks are surging as leader Carrie Lam scrapped the extradition bill that sparked months of protest

Hong Kong’s government scraps the incendiary extradition bill that has sparked months of protests


September 3

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam reportedly said she would quit if she could and had ‘very limited’ ability to contain protests

Hong Kong protesters have developed a sophisticated sign language to help in their months-long battle with police


September 1

Hong Kong protesters barricaded roads and disrupted trains to and from the airport, forcing travellers to walk


August 30



China appears to have blocked Hong Kong’s attempt to make peace with its protest movement by scrapping its incendiary extradition bill

The Hong Kong activist who became the face of the 2014 Umbrella Movement has been arrested in a new crackdown on protest leaders


August 29

Dozens of Chinese military trucks enter Hong Kong overnight for a ‘routine’ rotation of troops that could be part of China’s intimidation strategy


August 26-27



How Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests went from peaceful demonstrations to tear-gas-filled clashes in 3 months

Hong Kong protesters destroyed ‘smart’ lampposts because they fear China is spying on them

A Hong Kong tech company backed out of a government smart lamppost program after protesters started knocking them down over surveillance concerns


August 25

Hong Kong police deployed water cannons for the first time after protests over surveillance turned violent

Striking photos show how this weekend’s Hong Kong protests escalated into violence with makeshift weapons, water cannons, and tear gas

Hong Kong police drew their guns and fired a warning shot after being chased by protesters


August 24

Hong Kong protests descended into violence over surveillance concerns on the movement’s 12th weekend


August 22-23


YouTube says it shut down 210 channels tied to a disinformation campaign around the Hong Kong protests

Google refused to call out China over disinformation about Hong Kong – unlike Facebook and Twitter – and it could reignite criticism of its links to Beijing

A Chinese human rights lawyer mysteriously disappeared and a UK consulate worker was detained for 15 days as China cracks down on Hong Kong supporters


August 21

Mitch McConnell slams China over Hong Kong, threatens a global confrontation that could tank the finance hub


August 20

Hong Kong activists showed up to clean up a train station after violent clashes there with police


August 19

Facebook and Twitter say they have detected a Chinese propaganda campaign targeting Hong Kong protesters

Pepe the Frog, an alt-right symbol in the US, has emerged as the face of the Hong Kong protests


August 16

Cathay Pacific’s top 2 executives have resigned after protests in Hong Kong wreaked havoc on the airline’s flights and stock price

Chinese armed police are drilling at a stadium outside Hong Kong in a ‘clear warning’ to protesters


A protester takes us inside the demonstrations in Hong Kong


August 15

Trump offers to personally solve the escalating crisis in Hong Kong by meeting with China’s ‘great leader’ Xi Jinping

Trump is reportedly ignoring pleas from aides to back Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, as he fights to make trade war progress with China

Hong Kong protesters are calling for massive ATM withdrawals in an economic warning to China


August 14

A Republican leader spoke out in support of the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, but some say he’s actually hurting the cause

Trump’s weak support of Hong Kong protesters gives China a ‘green light’ for a military crackdown


August 13

At the airport

Hong Kong protesters paralyse airport for 2nd day as they continue to occupy departure hall

Violence breaks out at the Hong Kong airport as riot police clash with protesters

‘Sorry for the inconvenience’: Hong Kong protesters apologised to furious airport passengers

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam warns against pushing the city into the ‘abyss’ as protesters force airport to cancel hundreds more flights

Hong Kong protesters belt out ‘Do You Hear The People Sing?’ from ‘Les Mis√©rables’ during airport takeover

The Hong Kong airport has resumed flights after days of violent clashes shut down operations

At the border

Videos show a massive procession of Chinese military vehicles gathering along the Hong Kong border as China mulls over its next move in response to protests

Trump said US intelligence shows Chinese troops moving to border with Hong Kong and says he’s being blamed for ‘problems’ there

China bars US warships from making port call in Hong Kong as tensions mount amid continued protests


August 12

Hong Kong’s dominant airline Cathay Pacific warns employees they could be fired for taking part in Hong Kong protests

Cathay Pacific plunges to decade lows after China retaliates against its protesting employees

Hong Kong cancelled all flights Monday over the massive protests that have taken over the airport. Now it is bracing for a ripple effect of economic pain.

Beijing condemns ‘radical Hong Kong protesters’ as state media releases videos of armed police and armoured vehicles assembling nearby


August 8

China delivers its most explicit threat to use military force in Hong Kong if protests get bigger and more violent


August 7

Hong Kong police released video touting ability to spray protesters with dye that stains their clothes and skin in order to track them

Hong Kong activists use ‘Pok√©mon Go’ and Tinder to organise as police crack down on protests


August 5


Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says she will not resign as protests rage into their 9th week


August 3

As Hong Kong fights for its life, an embarrassed China has only violence to offer


August 1

Video shows Hong Kong protesters using lasers to disrupt government facial-recognition cameras


July 28-29

China says Hong Kong will ‘suffer’ if protests continue

Hostile protests in Hong Kong are unlikely to end anytime soon unless world leaders address Chinese interference, activists say


July 22

Masked assailants storm Hong Kong metro station with batons in an apparent attack on pro-democracy protesters

China condemns ‘intolerable’ Hong Kong protesters for targeting its offices in the semi-autonomous city


July 21

A pro-democracy march in Hong Kong was met with tear gas and police force. Here’s how it happened.


July 11

Trump has been buddying up to Hong Kong activists in order to use his support for protesters as a bargaining chip in talks with China


July 10

Trump cut a deal with China to mute US support for Hong Kong protests in exchange for progress in the trade war, report says


July 8


Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announces that the extradition bill that spurred weeks of violent protests is ‘dead’


July 5

Protesters in Hong Kong are killing themselves in a disturbing turn in their high-profile struggle against China


July 3

China’s military held ’emergency response’ exercises in Hong Kong as the city’s government fights to curb protests


July 2

China’s state-controlled media has completely ignored coverage of Hong Kong protests


July 1

Hong Kong protesters stormed the streets and graffitied the city’s legislative building


June 30


‘I thought they were going to beat me to death’: Police in Hong Kong reportedly dealt batons, bruised ribs, tear gas, and broken fingers to protesters


June 21

Thousands of protesters crowd the police headquarters in Hong Kong in fresh demonstrations


June 18


Hong Kong’s leader apologised profusely after huge protests over a controversial extradition bill, but won’t withdraw it

Hong Kong protests dealt China’s all-powerful President Xi Jinping an embarrassing blow that could sting for a while


June 17

Stocks rose on Monday after Hong Kong’s chief executive suspended a controversial bill that would allow extradition to China

Hong Kong’s protesters used low-tech street smarts to smash China’s powerful techno-authoritarianism


June 15

How protesters are hiding their identities during some of the largest demonstrations in Hong Kong’s history


Hong Kong’s leader Lam indefinitely delays proposed extradition law that drew some of the largest protests in territory’s history


June 14

Activists are warning protesters in Hong Kong to avoid public hospitals because police might be camped out there waiting to make arrests


June 12

Police fire tear gas, rubber bullets as protesters rally in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill that would give China more power over the territory

Hong Kong’s extradition bill could plunge it into the US-China trade war


June 10

Hong Kong’s leader signals polarising extradition bill will go forward – despite hundreds-of-thousands of protesters taking to the streets


June 9

Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong to express their outrage against a bill that would allow residents to be tried in China

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