National Security Law in Hong Kong

August 12, 2022 | 12:40pm
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National Security Law in Hong Kong
August 12, 2022

A Hong Kong court has jailed two young men in relation to a violent clash during the city's political unrest in 2019 that killed an elderly man.

Luo Chang-qing, a 70-year-old cleaner, died from a blow to the head during a border town confrontation where democracy protesters and government loyalists hurled bricks at each other.

Luo was one of the only fatalities directly linked to Hong Kong's political turmoil in 2019 and his case remains a source of outrage for government supporters.

Kelvin Lau, 19, and Chan Yin-ting, 18, are each sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail for rioting. — AFP

July 28, 2022

The family of a Hong Kong protester jailed in mainland China after a failed attempt to flee to Taiwan have not heard from him in nearly half a year and are worried about his health, his brother told AFP.

Tang Kai-yin, 31, was among a group of 12 Hong Kong activists caught by the Chinese coast guard in August 2020 as they fled by speedboat to avoid prosecutions related to 2019's huge, sometimes violent pro-democracy protests. 

The group, with the exception of two minors, was convicted in a closed-door trial in mainland city Shenzhen, with Tang receiving the heaviest sentence of three years in jail as an organiser of the run.

Due to coronavirus travel restrictions, Tang's family has not been able to visit him, and letters are all they have relied on -- but since February, they have heard nothing, according to Tang's younger brother, who preferred not to be named.

On Monday, one of the family's letters to Tang was returned to Hong Kong for a second time, with a handwritten note on the envelope saying the postal service could not reach the recipient. 

At this point, "our mother became very anxious, as if she had been thrown back to the days when my brother first vanished across the border," the younger Tang told AFP.

"She can't eat or sleep. Sometimes she will wake up in the middle of the night crying and end up sitting there waiting for the day to break." -- AFP

June 29, 2022

Looking back on her decision to leave Hong Kong with her family just before the city's handover from Britain to China 25 years ago, Mary still believes she made the right call.

"We just didn't trust the Chinese government," she told AFP, using a pseudonym.

She was not the only one.

Government estimates show hundreds of thousands of people quit Hong Kong in the years that preceded the handover for a new life overseas -- many citing fears of a future under Beijing's thumb.

As the territory celebrates the handover's 25th anniversary on Friday, with citywide posters proclaiming "a new era of stability, prosperity and opportunity", another exodus is under way.

Under the One Country, Two Systems principle set out with Britain, China agreed that Hong Kong would maintain a high degree of autonomy and independent judicial power and that the city's leader would be appointed by Beijing on the basis of local elections or consultations.

Beijing's imposition of a sweeping national security law has helped propel a new wave of emigrants across the world, swelling the diaspora of those who feel dispossessed by Chinese rule.

"Hong Kong people in different parts of the world will have different definitions of Hong Kong," said Fermi Wong, who moved to Britain in 2020. "But we share a strong sense of community, with shared destiny."

"The thing that connects us may be something indescribable, some kind of temperament -- I can always recognise Hong Kongers walking down a street." — AFP

June 19, 2022

Hong Kong, China | AFP | Sunday 6/19/2022 - 15:44 UTC+8 | 480 words

Beijing on Sunday appointed a new Hong Kong administration that includes four senior officials under US sanctions its incoming leader has decried as an attempt to "bully" China. 

The United States hit 11 Hong Kong and Beijing officials with sanctions two years ago after a sweeping national security law was imposed to snuff out dissent in the semi-autonomous city following the massive, sometimes violent democracy protests of 2019. 

Seven were members of the Hong Kong government, and four will continue in the new administration, including leader-in-waiting John Lee, security minister Chris Tang, mainland affairs minister Erick Tsang and newly appointed chief secretary for administration Eric Chan.

The other three sanctioned were retired police chief Steven Lo, outgoing city leader Carrie Lam and Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, who will be replaced. 

Under the sanctions, Lam has said she was forced to receive her salary in cash due to banking restrictions.

Introducing his new cabinet to reporters Sunday, Lee said he "scoffed at the so-called sanctions" and paid them no attention. 

"Some countries of bullies tried to intimidate (Hong Kong) officials with measures like sanctions, especially after their plots to sabotage our national security failed because of the measures we deployed," Lee said.

"This made us more determined in continuing to discharge our duties of defending national security."

Sunday's appointment of 26 principal officials comes less than two weeks before the new government assumes office on July 1, the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's transfer from British to Chinese rule and halfway point of the "One Country, Two Systems" political model. — AFP

May 12, 2022

An elderly Catholic cleric critical of Beijing was released on bail by Hong Kong authorities, local media reported late Wednesday, hours after he was arrested under the city's national security law.

Retired cardinal Joseph Zen was seen waving to reporters in a video posted on Twitter, as he left a police station in Chai Wan. He was released shortly before the White House issued a statement demanding he be freed.

Cantonese pop singer Denise Ho, who was also among the group of veteran democracy advocates arrested under the law, was similarly released on bail, local media said. — AFP

May 3, 2022

Hong Kong has plummeted down an international press freedom chart as authorities have wielded a draconian new security law to silence critical news outlets and jail journalists, a new report says on Tuesday.

In the last year alone it has plunged 68 places to 148th, sandwiching the international business hub between the Philippines and Turkey.

"It is the biggest downfall of the year, but it is fully deserved due to the consistent attacks on freedom of the press and the slow disappearance of the rule of law in Hong Kong," Cedric Alviani, head of RSF's Taiwan-based East Asia bureau, told AFP.

"In the past year we have seen a drastic, drastic move against journalists," he added. — AFP

April 27, 2022

Heavy-handed government action, self-censorship and physical threats against journalists have left Hong Kong's media freedoms in a "dire" state, a UK-based campaign group says.

Hong Kong Watch urges Western countries to defend journalists in the former British territory, including by offering them visas to relocate and outlets for Cantonese-language programming overseas.

The governments of both Hong Kong and China were guilty of "dismantling media freedom in Hong Kong", in part through a sweeping National Security Law imposed by Beijing in 2020, the group says in a new report.

"The situation for media freedom in Hong Kong is dire," it says. — AFP/Jitendra Joshi

April 20, 2022

US video hosting service YouTube Wednesday suspends a channel promoting Hong Kong official John Lee's uncontested bid to be the city's next leader, saying the move was in compliance with sanctions against the ex-security chief.

Lee is expected to be appointed the business hub's new chief executive by a committee of 1,500 Beijing loyalists next month. He faces no rivals.

Parent company Google defends the decision to remove his channel, saying the move was in compliance with US sanctions, which ban American companies and individuals from providing services to targeted officials.

"After review and consistent with these policies, we terminated the Johnlee2022 YouTube channel," a company spokesperson says. — AFP

April 20, 2022

A pro-democracy Hong Kong radio DJ was jailed for 40 months on Wednesday for "seditious speech" under a British colonial-era law authorities have embraced as China flattens dissent in the city.

Tam Tak-chi, 49, is among a growing number of activists charged with sedition, a previously little-used law that prosecutors have dusted off in the wake of massive and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in 2019.

The DJ's sentencing was aggravated because his seditious speech continued after China imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020, Judge Stanley Chan said Wednesday while announcing the punishment.

"Live long, mother, wait for me," Tam shouted afterwards as he was taken away from the court.

Better known by his moniker "Fast Beat", Tam hosted a popular online talk show that backed democracy and was highly critical of the government, often using colourful language.   AFP

April 11, 2022

A veteran Hong Kong journalist was arrested by national security police on Monday for allegedly conspiring to publish "seditious materials", a police source and local media said.

The arrest is the latest blow against the local press in Hong Kong which has seen its media freedom rating plummet as Beijing cracks down on dissent.

Allan Au, a 54-year-old reporter and journalism lecturer, was arrested in a dawn raid by Hong Kong's national security police unit, multiple local media outlets reported. 

A senior police source confirmed Au's arrest to AFP on a charge of "conspiracy to publish seditious materials". — AFP

January 12, 2022

Hong Kong will outlaw a host of new national security crimes, the city's leader said Wednesday, as she presided over the first session of a new "patriots only" legislature scrubbed of political opposition.

The law will add to an already sweeping national security law imposed directly on Hong Kong by Beijing that has transformed the international finance hub and empowered authorities to carry out a widespread crackdown on dissent.

The current national security law outlaws four crimes: secession, subversion, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces.

But on Wednesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam confirmed that her government will create new "local legislation" that meets Article 23 of Hong Kong's mini-constitution, which calls for the city to pass its own national security laws.

Lam did not outline what the new crimes would be. — AFP

January 3, 2022

Journalists from Hong Kong's CitizenNews decried plummeting press freedoms as they shut down Monday, saying they no longer felt safe to publish after a rival outlet's staff were arrested for "sedition".

"We have been trying our best not to violate any laws but we can no longer see clearly the lines of law enforcement and we can no longer feel safe to work," CitizenNews co-founder Chris Yeung, a former president of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, tells reporters. 

"Journalists are also human beings with families and friends," he adds.

December 30, 2021

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemns the latest closure of a pro-democracy media outlet in Hong Kong, saying it undermined the reputation of the Chinese-ruled financial hub.

"By silencing independent media, PRC and local authorities undermine Hong Kong's credibility and viability," he says, referring to the People's Republic of China.

"A confident government that is unafraid of the truth embraces a free press." -- AFP

December 29, 2021

Hong Kong authorities arrest six current and former staff of local news outlet Stand News on Wednesday on colonial-era charges of "seditious publication", amid international alarm about the city's press freedoms.

Police say more than 200 uniformed and plainclothes police were deployed to search the publication's office in the Kwun Tong district.

An AFP reporter saw Stand News editor-in-chief Patrick Lam being led into the news outlet's office building in handcuffs.

Stand News is the second Hong Kong media company targeted by national security police following Apple Daily, which closed in June after authorities froze its assets under a national security law imposed by Beijing to curb dissent. 

Local pop star Denise Ho, who served on the board of Stand News but resigned in November, was also arrested, according to her Facebook page. — AFP

December 23, 2021

Hong Kong's oldest university launches an overnight operation to dismantle a statue commemorating those killed in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in the latest blow to academic freedoms as China cracks down.

The eight-metre (26-feet) high "Pillar of Shame" by Jens Galschiot has sat on the University of Hong Kong's (HKU) campus since 1997, the year the former British colony was handed back to China.

The sculpture features 50 anguished faces and tortured bodies piled on one another and commemorates democracy protesters killed by Chinese troops around Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Its presence was a vivid illustration of Hong Kong's freedoms compared to the Chinese mainland where the events at Tiananmen are heavily censored.

But Beijing is currently remoulding Hong Kong in its own authoritarian image after democracy protests two years ago and commemorating Tiananmen has become effectively illegal.

In October, HKU officials ordered the removal of the sculpture citing new but unspecified legal risks. — AFP

December 19, 2021

Hong Kong's political elites and residents began voting for new city lawmakers on Sunday under Beijing's "patriots only" rules that drastically reduce the number of directly elected seats and control who can run for office.

It is the first legislature poll under the new political blueprint China imposed on Hong Kong in response to massive and often violent pro-democracy protests two years ago.

All candidates have been vetted for their patriotism and political loyalty to China and only 20 of the 90 legislature seats will be directly elected.

Voting centres opened at 8:30 am for about 4.5 million registered voters in the city of 7.5 million, and will close 14 hours later, with polling suggesting the turnout could be low.

The largest chunk of seats — 40 — will be picked by a committee of 1,500 staunch Beijing loyalists. — AFP

December 17, 2021

Hong Kong's political elite will pick new city lawmakers on Sunday under Beijing's "patriots only" rules that drastically reduce the number of directly elected seats and control who can run for office.

It is the first legislature election overseen by a new political blueprint that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in response to massive and often violent pro-democracy protests two years ago.

Some 4.5 million residents in the city of 7.5 million can vote but their ballots will only decide 20 seats in a 90-person legislature — down from half under the old system.

The majority of seats, 40, will be picked by a select committee of 1,500 staunch Beijing loyalists who make up 0.02 percent of the city's population. 

A further 30 will be chosen by reliably pro-Beijing committees known as functional constituencies that represent various special-interest and industry groups. — AFP

December 16, 2021

A Hong Kong court on Wednesday ordered the liquidation of the parent company of Apple Daily, delivering another blow to the pro-democracy newspaper after the local edition was shuttered in a crackdown on dissent.

Apple Daily closed down in Hong Kong earlier this year after its assets were frozen using a national security law that China imposed on the city, but it continues to publish in Taiwan.

Its owner, media tycoon Jimmy Lai, and multiple executives have been detained and charged with collusion for outspoken articles and columns the paper published. 

In September, the Hong Kong government made the rare move of applying to dissolve the paper's parent company, Next Digital Limited, saying it would be "expedient in the public interest".

High Court judge Jack Wong on Wednesday granted the government's request after a brief hearing that was not contested by Next Digital.

It is unclear how the court order will affect Apple Daily's edition in Taiwan, which continues to operate as a financially independent subsidiary. Next Digital's Taiwan offices did not respond to requests for comment.  — AFP

December 9, 2021

Jailed Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai is among three democracy campaigners convicted on Thursday for taking part in a banned Tiananmen vigil as the prosecution of multiple activists came to a conclusion.

Lai, the 74-year-old owner of the now-shuttered pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, is found guilty of unlawful assembly charges alongside former journalist Gwyneth Ho and prominent rights lawyer Chow Hang-tung. — AFP

November 1, 2021

Three Hong Kong activists, including media tycoon Jimmy Lai, plead not guilty on Monday to charges over last year's banned Tiananmen vigil.

The trio, Lai, Chow Hang-tung and Gwyneth Ho will be the only defendants to stand a full trial among more than two dozen pro-democracy politicians and activists charged over the annual commemorative event. The other defendants all pleaded guilty to charges including inciting and taking part in an illegal assembly.

"I understand every word you said but I do not understand why it constituted a crime," Chow tells the court.

"Mourning is not a crime. I plead not guilty." — AFP

October 27, 2021

Hong Kong passed a toughened film censorship law on Wednesday empowering authorities to ban past films for "national security" threats and impose stiffer penalties for any breaches in the latest blow to the city's artistic freedoms.

Authorities have embarked on a sweeping crackdown to root out Beijing's critics after huge and often violent democracy protests convulsed the city two years ago.

A new China-imposed security law and an official campaign dubbed "Patriots rule Hong Kong" has since criminalized much dissent and strangled the democracy movement.

Films and documentaries have become one of many cultural areas authorities have sought to purge. 

In June the city announced censors would check any future films for content that breached the security law.

But the law passed on Wednesday by the city's legislature — a body now devoid of any opposition — allows scrutiny of any titles that had previously been given a green light. — AFP

October 13, 2021

The Danish artist behind a Hong Kong sculpture mourning those killed in Tiananmen Square has instructed a lawyer to secure his work and bring it overseas after the city's flagship university ordered its sudden removal.

The eight-meter high "Pillar of Shame" by Jens Galschiot has sat on the University of Hong Kong's (HKU) campus since 1997, the year the city was handed back to China.

It features 50 anguished faces and tortured bodies piled on one another and commemorates democracy protesters killed by Chinese troops around Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Last week Hong Kong's oldest university ordered it to be removed by 5pm on Wednesday citing "legal advice" as authorities crack down on dissent. — AFP

September 29, 2021

Hong Kong's government has applied to dissolve the parent company of a now-shuttered pro-democracy newspaper, officials said Wednesday, the same day strict new guidelines were unveiled for the city's public broadcaster.

Authorities have moved to rein in press freedoms in Hong Kong as China remoulds the once-outspoken city in its own authoritarian image, following huge and often violent democracy protests two years ago.

Earlier this year Apple Daily, the city's most popular pro-democracy newspaper, closed down after its assets were frozen using a national security law that China imposed on Hong Kong to root out dissent.

On Wednesday financial secretary Paul Chan said the government had filed a court petition to wind up Apple Daily's parent company, Next Digital Limited (NDL).

"The Financial Secretary took the view that it would be expedient in the public interest that NDL be wound up," the government said in a statement.  

Hong Kong bills itself as a global business and media hub, but authorities have made clear they will move against any company or individual deemed a threat to China's national security. — AFP

September 19, 2021

Hong Kong's political elite began selecting a powerful committee on Sunday which will choose the city's next leader and nearly half the legislature under a new "patriots only" system imposed by Beijing.

The financial hub has never been a democracy — the source of years of protests — but a small and vocal opposition was tolerated after the city's 1997 handover to authoritarian China.

Huge and often violent democracy rallies exploded two years ago and Beijing has responded with a crackdown and a new political system where only those deemed loyal are allowed to stand for office.

The first poll under that new system — carrying the slogan "Patriots rule Hong Kong" — took place on Sunday as members of the city's ruling classes cast votes for a 1,500-seat Election Committee.

In December, that committee will appoint 40 of the city's 90 legislators — 30 others will be chosen by special interest groups and just 20 will be directly elected. The following year, it will pick Hong Kong's next Beijing-approved leader. — AFP

September 9, 2021

Hong Kong police on Thursday raided a museum that houses exhibits commemorating Beijing's deadly crackdown on Tiananmen Square in 1989, a day after they arrested four members of the group that ran the venue.

The raid came as police accused one of the four arrestees — prominent barrister Chow Hang-tung, vice-chairwoman of the group — of inciting subversion, according to Chow's lawyers and relatives.

Officers from the newly created national security unit were seen carting away documents and exhibits from the now-shuttered June 4 museum which is run by the Hong Kong Alliance. 

The items included a giant logo of the museum, a paper model of the Goddess of Democracy — a symbol of the 1989 pro-democracy student movement in Beijing — and photos of the huge annual candlelight vigils Hong Kongers hosted for Tiananmen's victims, as well as dozens of boxes of materials. — AFP

August 26, 2021

A powerful new Hong Kong committee tasked with vetting politicians and officials for their loyalty disqualified an opposition lawmaker for the first time on Thursday, as authorities purge its institutions of anyone deemed disloyal to Beijing.

Cheng Chung-tai, one of just two opposition figures left in the city's legislature, was deemed disloyal on the basis of his previous statements and behaviour, chief secretary John Lee, who heads the vetting committee, told reporters.

"To those who pretend to... bear allegiance to the government, I will not be deceived by their flowery speeches and their attempts to sugarcoat," Lee said, adding Cheng had "lost his seat with immediate effect."

Lee did not detail what specifically Cheng had said or done that had led to his disqualification. — AFP

August 19, 2021

Two Hong Kongers accused of being part of a group that campaigned for international sanctions against China pleaded guilty under the city's national security law on Thursday in a case that is linked to jailed pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai.

China imposed the sweeping security law on Hong Kong last year to wipe out dissent after the financial hub was rocked by huge and often violent democracy protests.

More than 130 people, including many of the city's best-known democracy advocates, have since been arrested under the law.

Democracy activist Andy Li, 31, and paralegal Chan Tsz-wah, 30, admitted to a charge of "colluding with foreign forces to endanger China's national security" on Thursday. — AFP

August 18, 2021

Four student leaders from Hong Kong's top university were arrested on Wednesday for "advocating terrorism", police said.

A controversial student union statement following a lone wolf attack on a police officer last month sparked the arrests, according to senior superintendent Steve Li, from the city's national security police unit.

"Four men aged between 18 and 20 were arrested today, they are members of the student union and the student union council," he told reporters.

On July 1, a man stabbed and wounded a police officer in a busy shopping district before taking his own life in what authorities called an act of "domestic terrorism". — AFP

August 15, 2021

The Hong Kong protest coalition that organised record-breaking democracy rallies two years ago said Sunday it was disbanding in the face of China's sweeping clampdown on dissent in the city.

The dissolution comes as China remoulds Hong Kong in its own authoritarian image and purges the city of any person or group deemed disloyal or unpatriotic.

The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) was a major player in the months of democracy protests that convulsed Hong Kong in 2019.

But the group said Beijing's subsequent crackdown on democracy supporters and a de facto ban on protests had left it with little future.

"All member groups have been suppressed and civil society is facing an unprecedented severe challenge," the Civil Human Rights Front wrote in a statement announcing why it was disbanding. — AFP

August 12, 2021

Hong Kong's population declined by 1.2 percent in the last year, including nearly 90,000 more residents departing than moving to the city, figures released Thursday showed, as Beijing cracked down on dissent and the pandemic kept the finance hub sealed off.

The population decrease continues the largest decline since the city began keeping comparable records in 1961 and comes during a period of intense political turmoil.

Mid-year population estimates for 2021 showed Hong Kong's population stands at 7,394,700 — a decrease of 87,100 (1.2 percent) from the same time last year.

End of year figures for Hong Kong in 2020 also showed a 1.2 percent decline, and Thursday's numbers suggest there has been no respite in the drop-off. — AFP

August 12, 2021

China's plan to expand its anti-sanctions law into Hong Kong is a fresh compliance headache for international banks already caught up in deteriorating relations between Beijing and major western powers, analysts and insiders say.

As a finance hub with an internationally respected legal system, Hong Kong has long marketed itself as a reliable business gateway to authoritarian China.

But swirling geopolitical tensions -- and China's crackdown on dissent in the city -- have made that business environment less smooth the last two years. — AFP

August 6, 2021

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that Hong Kong citizens currently in the United States who fear for their safety amid the political crackdown back home will receive temporary safe haven.

Biden said the move recognizes "the significant erosion" of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong by the Chinese government.

"By unilaterally imposing on Hong Kong the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the People's Republic of China has undermined the enjoyment of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong," he said in a statement.

Biden cited the "politically motivated arrests" of more than 100 opposition politicians, activists and protesters on charges under the national security law, including allegations of secession, subversion and terrorist activities.

More than 10,000 others have been arrested in relation to anti-government protests, he said. — AFP

July 27, 2021

A Hong Kong court convicts a man of terrorism and inciting secession on Tuesday in the first trial under a national security law imposed by China to stamp out dissent.

Tong Ying-kit, a 24-year-old former waiter, was found guilty of both charges by a panel of three judges who ruled that a flag he flew sporting a popular protest slogan was "capable of inciting others to commit secession" and therefore illegal. — AFP

July 21, 2021

A police source says a former senior editor of Hong Kong's shuttered pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was arrested by national security police on Wednesday morning.

The source tells AFP that former executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung had been detained. 

In a statement, police say they had arrested a 51-year-old former newspaper editor for "collusion with foreign forces", a national security crime. 

July 15, 2021

Hong Kong's press freedoms are "in tatters" as China remoulds the once outspoken business hub in its own authoritarian image, the city's main journalist union said Thursday, adding it feared "fake news" laws were on their way.

"The past year is definitely the worst year so far for press freedom," Ronson Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), said as the union published its annual report.

The report referenced a cascade of events impacting the press since China imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong last summer to stamp out dissent after huge and often violent democracy protests the year before. — AFP

June 30, 2021

Hong Kong's national security law has decimated freedoms and created a "human rights emergency", Amnesty International says, a year after Beijing imposed the legislation on the city.

The sweeping national security law -- which criminalises anything authorities deem subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorism with up to life in prison -- has radically transformed Hong Kong's political and legal landscape.

"In one year, the National Security Law has put Hong Kong on a rapid path to becoming a police state and created a human rights emergency for the people living there," Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director Yamini Mishra says. — AFP

June 23, 2021

Hong Kong's pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper confirms Wednesday that the following day's newspaper will be its final edition after police froze its assets using a new national security law. 

"Apple Daily decided that the paper will cease operations from midnight and tomorrow (24th) will be the last publication day," the paper writes on its website. "Apple Daily's website will stop updates from midnight."

That announcement comes minutes after the paper's board said it would cease operations "no later than Saturday". —  AFP

June 23, 2021

Hong Kong police arrest a columnist at pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily using a new national security law, days after the force raided its newsroom, arrested five executives and froze its assets.

Police say a 55-year-old man was arrested "on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security".

A police source told AFP the arrested man wrote columns for Apple Daily under the pen name Li Ping. — AFP

June 22, 2021

Media outlets in Hong Kong must not "subvert" the government, the city's leader says, rejecting US criticism of recent action against a pro-democracy newspaper under a powerful new security law.

Hong Kong has long hosted a vibrant international and local media scene but press freedoms have slipped dramatically in recent years. 

Last week, authorities froze the assets of the city's largest pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, using the national security law Beijing imposed on the city in 2020. — AFP

June 21, 2021

Hong Kong's pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper warned Monday it is unable to pay staff and is at imminent risk of closure after the government froze the company's assets using a sweeping new national security law.

Apple Daily has long been a thorn in Beijing's side, with unapologetic support for the city's pro-democracy movement and caustic criticism of China's authoritarian leaders.

Its owner Jimmy Lai is in jail and was among the first to be charged under the security law after its imposition last year. Its chief editor and CEO have been detained and its finances frozen.

Mark Simon, an aide to Lai, said the freeze order by the city's security chief last week had crippled the newspaper's ability to do business. — AFP

June 19, 2021

Two executives from Hong Kong's pro-democracy Apple Daily appear in court charged with collusion after authorities deployed a sweeping security law to target the newspaper, a scathing critic of Beijing.

Chief editor Ryan Law and CEO Cheung Kim-hung are accused of colluding with foreign forces to undermine China's national security over a series of articles that police said called for international sanctions.

It is the first time the political views and opinion published by a Hong Kong media outlet have triggered an investigation under the security law, which was imposed last year by Beijing to stamp out dissent in the financial hub. — AFP

June 12, 2021

Hong Kong democracy activist Agnes Chow is released Saturday from prison on the second anniversary of the city's huge democracy rallies, with police out in force and protests now all but banned.

Two thousand officers have been placed on standby after social media calls for residents to commemorate the failed democracy demonstrations.

Authorities have kept a coronavirus prohibition on public gatherings despite the city recording just three local infections in the last month. — AFP

May 27, 2021

Shares in the parent company of Hong Kong's pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper quadrupled on Thursday as trading in them resumed following an eight day suspension. 

Dealing in Next Digital was halted last week after city authorities said they were freezing the assets of its jailed owner Jimmy Lai, using a sweeping new national security law.

But when trading resumed Thursday the share price skyrocketed from its previous close of HK$0.19 to hit HK$0.80 before paring the gains to HK$0.36 mid-morning.

The group saw a similar — and volatile — surge in its share price in August when police first arrested Lai, as ordinary Hong Kongers snapped up the firm to show support for the embattled Apple Daily. — AFP

May 17, 2021

Hong Kong's largest pro-democracy media group announced it was halting share trading Monday, two days after authorities froze the assets of its jailed owner Jimmy Lai under a new national security law.

Next Digital Limited — which publishes the Apple Daily newspaper — said it would halt trading "pending the release of an announcement" about Lai's frozen assets, in a statement to the city's stock exchange.

On Friday the Hong Kong Security Bureau announced it was freezing Lai's shares in Next Digital as well as the contents of three of his bank accounts, using the security law which Beijing imposed on the city last year.

It marks the first time authorities have wielded the law to freeze the shares of a listed company's major shareholder -- a step that could cause further jitters for investor sentiment in the business hub.

A rags-to-riches billionaire, media tycoon Lai, 73, has long been a thorn in Beijing's side thanks to his caustic tabloids and unapologetic support for democracy.

Apple Daily, the city's most popular tabloid, has staunchly backed Hong Kong's pro-democracy cause, including the huge and often violent protests that swept the international financial hub in 2019.

Chinese authorities have made no secret of their desire to see Apple Daily shut down and Lai silenced. — AFP

May 12, 2021

More than 40% of a top US business group's members in Hong Kong said they plan to leave the city in a survey released Wednesday, highlighting growing concerns over Beijing's sweeping national security law.

China blanketed Hong Kong in a broad security law last year to snuff out dissent after months of huge and often violent democracy protests.

The American Chamber of Commerce survey — conducted between May 5 and 9 — found 42% of 325 respondents said they were planning a move away, with a significant majority (62%) citing the national security law as a key reason.

Other reasons given included the city's pandemic control measures, its future competitiveness, the high cost of living and concerns over the quality of education as dissent is quashed.

"While people share their love for living in this dynamic city, they also reveal growing underlying tensions and nagging fears," said Tara Joseph, AmCham's president.

"Previously, I never had a worry about what I said or wrote when I was in Hong Kong," one respondent wrote in comments published in the survey. — AFP

May 6, 2021

Jailed Hong Kong dissident Joshua Wong was handed an additional 10-month sentence on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to taking part in an "unlawful" Tiananmen Square protest last year.

Wong was sentenced alongside three other prominent young activists — Lester Shum, Tiffany Yuen and Janelle Leung — over the 4 June vigil, which was banned by police for the first time last year. —  AFP

April 28, 2021

Hong Kong passed a new immigration law on Wednesday that includes powers to stop people entering or leaving the city, raising fears Chinese mainland-style "exit bans" could be deployed in the international business hub.

The legislation sailed through a legislature now devoid of opposition as Beijing seeks to quash dissent and make the semi-autonomous city more like the authoritarian mainland following huge and often violent democracy protests.

Activists, lawyers and some business figures have sounded the alarm over various provisions within the bill, including one that allows the city's immigration chief to bar people from boarding planes to and from the city. 

No court order is required and there is no recourse to appeal. — AFP

April 8, 2021

China on Thursday accused Britain of sheltering "wanted criminals" after prominent Hong Kong democracy activist Nathan Law said he had been granted political asylum there.

London and Beijing are at bitter odds over the fate of Hong Kong, with Britain accusing China of tearing up its promise to maintain key liberties in the former colony for 50 years after the handover.

Law said Wednesday he had been granted asylum in Britain, after fleeing semi-autonomous Hong Kong following the introduction of a sweeping new security law.

That provoked an angry response in Beijing. 

"The UK is clearly a platform for Hong Kong independence agitators, and provides so-called shelter for wanted criminals," foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters. — AFP

April 1, 2021

Nine veteran Hong Kong activists face jail after they were convicted Thursday on unlawful assembly charges for their role in organising one of the biggest democracy protests to engulf the city in 2019.

The defendants include some of the city's most prominent pro-democracy campaigners, many of whom are non-violence advocates who have spent decades campaigning in vain for universal suffrage.

They are the latest group of democracy figures to be prosecuted as China oversees a sweeping crackdown on dissent in the restless financial hub.

Among them are Martin Lee, an 82-year-old barrister who was once chosen by Beijing to help write Hong Kong's mini-constitution, and Margaret Ng, a 73-year-old barrister and former opposition lawmaker.

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai, currently in custody after his arrest under Beijing's new national security law, was among those convicted. — AFP

March 12, 2021

The United States on Thursday denounce China's approval of sweeping changes to Hong Kong's electoral system, saying Beijing was stifling democracy in the financial capital.

The rubber-stamp parliament's move is "a direct attack on autonomy promised to people in Hong Kong under the Sino-British Joint Declaration" before the handover of the territory in 1997, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says.

"These actions deny Hong Kongers a voice in their own governance by limiting political participation, reducing democratic representation and stifling political debate," Blinken says in a statement. —  AFP

March 12, 2021

The European Union warns China it could take "additional steps" as it condemned a vote by Beijing's rubber-stamp parliament for sweeping changes to Hong Kong's electoral system. 

"The National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China adopted today a decision that will have a significant impact on democratic accountability and political pluralism in Hong Kong," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says in a statement on behalf of the 27-nation bloc. 

Thursday's vote includes powers to veto candidates running in the city as Beijing moves decisively to dismantle Hong Kong's democratic pillars after huge protests in the financial hub.  

"The European Union regrets that the fundamental freedoms, democratic principles and the political pluralism that are central to Hong Kong's identity and prosperity are under increasing pressure by the authorities," the statement says. —  AFP

March 4, 2021

A Hong Kong judge agreed to release 15 dissidents charged with subversion on Thursday as he began delivering a closely watched ruling at the end of a mammoth four day bail hearing.

"These 15 defendants, the court finds it has sufficient ground to believe that you won't commit acts endangering national security again during the period of bail," chief magistrate Victor So said.

The fate of the remaining 32 dissidents facing the same charges has not yet been addressed in the judge's ruling. — AFP

March 3, 2021

A Hong Kong teenager becomes the youngest person so far to plead guilty to rioting during 2019's huge pro-democracy protests on Wednesday, as he admits throwing a petrol bomb at police when aged just 14.

The judge accepts advice from the city's correctional services and sends the 16-year-old boy to a detention centre, an alternative to prison for young offenders.

The period of detention will be decided by the correctional services, with a minimum duration of one month and a maximum of half a year. —  AFP

March 1, 2021

S Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls for the release of Hong Kong dissidents charged and detained under Beijing's sweeping new national security law.

"We condemn the detention of and charges filed against pan-democratic candidates in Hong Kong's elections and call for their immediate release," Blinken says on Twitter.

February 28, 2021

Hong Kong police charged dozens of dissidents with subversion on Sunday in the largest use yet of Beijing's sweeping new national security law, as authorities move to cripple the finance hub's democracy movement.

Last month 55 of the city's best-known democracy campaigners were arrested in a series of dawn raids.

On Sunday, police confirmed 47 of them had been charged with one count each of "conspiracy to commit subversion" — one of the new national security crimes — and would appear in court on Monday morning.

Beijing is battling to stamp out dissent in semi-autonomous Hong Kong after swathes of the population hit the streets in 2019 in huge and sometimes violent democracy protests. — AFP

February 7, 2021

A Hong Kong internet radio host was arrested on Sunday under a little-used colonial era sedition law that authorities have begun to wield against Beijing's critics.

Officers from the police's national security department arrested 52-year-old Wan Yiu-sing on a charge of "seditious intent", according to a police statement.

Authorities did not disclose what Wan had said or did that was potentially seditious.

The radio personality, better known by his DJ name "Giggs", has hosted programmes discussing anti-government demonstrations and previously called for donations to support young Hong Kongers who have fled to nearby Taiwan.

Hong Kong's sedition law is separate to a sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed on the city last summer in a bid to stamp out dissent. 

Instead it dates back to the mid-19th century during British colonial rule. — AFP

January 29, 2021

Britain's government on Friday vowed to stand by the people of its former colony Hong Kong against a Chinese crackdown as it prepared to launch a new visa scheme potentially benefiting millions.

Holders of British National (Overseas) status — a legacy of UK rule over Hong Kong up to 1997 — will from Sunday be able to apply to live and work in the UK for up to five years, and eventually seek citizenship.

Before the change, BN(O) passport holders have had only limited rights to visit the UK for up to six months, and not to work or settle.

The UK says it is acting in response to a National Security Law imposed by China last year which has devastated Hong Kong's democracy movement and shredded freedoms meant to last 50 years under the 1997 handover accord.

"I am immensely proud that we have brought in this new route for Hong Kong BN(O)s to live, work and make their home in our country," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement. — AFP

January 7, 2021

Jailed Hong Kong democracy campaigner Joshua Wong was arrested by police on Thursday under the city's new national security law, a senior police source tells AFP.

Wong, currently serving a sentence of 13 and a half months for his role in organising democracy protests, was arrested inside Shek Pik Prison on a new charge of subversion, the officer confirms. —  AFP

January 6, 2021

US President-elect Joe Biden's pick for Secretary of State blasts Hong Kong authorities for arresting some 50 opposition figures on Wednesday under a new national security law. 

"The sweeping arrests of pro-democracy demonstrators are an assault on those bravely advocating for universal rights," Antony Blinken says on Twitter. 

"The Biden-Harris administration will stand with the people of Hong Kong and against Beijing's crackdown on democracy," he adds. — AFP

December 30, 2020

Two teenagers among 12 activists held in China will be sent back to Hong Kong on Wednesday, the city's police said.

The handover comes as verdicts for the other 10 of the "Hong Kong 12" were expected to be handed down by a court in the southern city of Shenzhen on charges linked to an illegal border crossing.

The two teens, aged 16 and 17, were expected to be handed back by Shenzhen authorities to the city's police force at the border around noon (0400 GMT). — AFP

December 21, 2020

Hong Kong faces no respite from Beijing's crackdown on dissent after a year that saw its status as a free speech bastion collapse under a security law that has radically transformed the city.

China's authoritarian leaders guaranteed Hong Kong would maintain key freedoms and autonomy after its 1997 handover by Britain in a model dubbed "One Country, Two Systems".

But a historic retreat from that promise is underway in response to the huge and often violent democracy protests that convulsed the business hub a year ago.

Hong Kong is now a place where Beijing increasingly calls the shots and where voicing certain opinions can now carry up to a lifetime prison sentence. — AFP

December 3, 2020

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was remanded into custody on Thursday after being charged with fraud, the latest in a string of prosecutions brought against high-profile Beijing critics and democracy campaigners. 

Lai, 73, is the owner of Hong Kong's best-selling Apple Daily, a popular tabloid that is unashamedly pro-democracy and fiercely critical of authorities.

Lai and two of the firm's executives — Royston Chow and Wong Wai-keung — face fraud charges that court documents say are related to the paper's offices allegedly being used for purposes not permitted by the building's lease.

Police raided Apple Daily's headquarters in August and arrested a string of senior company figures, including Lai, on suspicion of "collusion with foreign forces" under a vaguely worded new national security law that Beijing imposed on the city.

None has so far been charged with any national security breaches. — AFP

December 2, 2020

Leading Hong Kong dissident Joshua Wong is jailed alongside two other young activists on Wednesday for leading an illegal rally outside the city's police headquarters during last year's huge democracy protests.

Wong is sentenced to 13.5 months in jail while his colleagues Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam get 10 months and seven months respectively, an AFP reporter inside the court says. —  AFP

December 1, 2020

 When Hong Kong protester Hei saw fellow activists put behind bars for taking part in last year's democracy protests, she was determined to keep the flame burning by writing them letters.

Thousands have been arrested and held in custody for a range of offences during the huge and sometimes violent protests that convulsed the financial hub last year.

The city's prison system strictly controls inmate access to information about life outside, so Hei decided to keep them up to date on the democracy movement by putting pen to paper. Her mailing list now has almost 60 people on it.

"It's a relationship between comrades-in-arms and we have trust in each other," the 22-year-old told AFP, asking to use just one name to protect her identity. 

"We share the same pain. I hope letter-writing can strengthen people's confidence in the movement." — AFP

November 27, 2020

Hong Kong prison staff were wrong to cut the hair of a veteran dissident known for his long locks, the city's top court said Friday, in the second significant ruling against authorities this month.

The decision comes as powerful establishment voices call for an overhaul of the judiciary — something opponents fear could muzzle the Hong Kong legal system's vaunted independence as Beijing cracks down on critics.

Friday's ruling by the Final Court of Appeal is the culmination of a long legal battle by Leung Kwok-hung, 64, who served a brief jail sentence in 2014 linked to his protesting.

Better known by the sobriquet "Longhair", he is one of the city's best known dissidents, beginning his career campaigning against British colonial rule and later becoming a fierce critic of Beijing. 

A panel of top judges — including Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma — unanimously ruled that Leung's rights had been breached under sexual discrimination laws when his hair was cut in jail.

Hong Kong prison authorities insist all male inmates — AFP

November 24, 2020

A Hong Kong man was dragged from a court shouting democracy slogans and remanded into custody on Tuesday after becoming the third person to be charged under a sweeping new national security law.

The man's detention is a stark illustration of how the new legislation, imposed by Beijing this summer, has created a host of speech crimes with stiff consequences for those accused of breaching the rules.

Ma Chun-man, 30, was bundled away by police as he shouted "Spread the word, democracy is cultivated with blood and sweat" after being charged with "inciting secession" — one of the new national security crimes — according to an AFP reporter in court.

Prosecutors said Ma was arrested seven times by police between 15 August and 22 November and that he had chanted slogans calling for Hong Kong's independence from China. — AFP

November 12, 2020

China warned Thursday the mass resignations of pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong were a "blatant challenge" to its authority over the city.

Fifteen legislators were set to quit the chamber in protest at the Beijing-sanctioned ousting of four colleagues, leaving the assembly a muted gathering of government loyalists.

The resignations come with the city's beleaguered pro-democracy movement and avenues of dissent already under sustained attack since Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law this year.

Half of the group had made good on their pledge by Thursday afternoon, which sparked a furious response from Beijing's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

"It once again showed their stubborn confrontation against the central government and a blatant challenge to the power of the central government. We severely condemn this," a statement said. — AFP

November 11, 2020

Hong Kong's pro-democracy lawmakers say they would all quit in protest at the ousting of four of their colleagues who were judged a threat to national security by authoritarian Beijing.

The resignations will reduce the semi-autonomous city's once-feisty legislature to a gathering of Chinese central government loyalists, effectively ending pluralism in the chamber.

They also mark another blow to Hong Kong's beleaguered pro-democracy movement, which has been under sustained attack since China imposed a sweeping national security law, including arrests for social media posts and activists fleeing overseas. — AFP

October 16, 2020

A top Chinese diplomat warns Canada against granting asylum to Hong Kong democracy protesters, adding that doing so could jeopardize the "health and safety" of Canadians living in the southern Chinese financial hub.

The remarks by Cong Peiwu, Beijing's Ottawa envoy, prompted a rebuke from Canada's foreign minister, further escalating tensions between the two countries.

Cong was responding to reports that a Hong Kong couple who took part in last year's huge and sometimes violent protests had been granted refugee status. — AFP

October 1, 2020

Hong Kong's leader Thursday hailed her city's "return to peace" after China imposed a security law that helped suppress a pro-democracy movement, as just a handful of people defied a heavy police presence and protested during National Day celebrations.

The People's Republic of China celebrates its founding on October 1 with a holiday and carefully choreographed festivities.

But in Hong Kong, it has become a day of grievance for those worried about authoritarian Beijing's intensifying crackdown against its opponents.

Protest has been effectively outlawed for most of this year and Beijing also imposed a strict national security law on the semi-autonomous business hub in June. — AFP

September 24, 2020

The European Union on Thursday criticised the arrest of prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, saying it was "troubling" and undermined trust in China.

The 23-year-old's detention for for "unlawful assembly" over a 2019 demonstration comes after China imposed a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong in late June.

"The arrest of Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong on 24 September is the latest in a troubling series of arrests of pro-democracy activists since the summer," an EU spokesperson said, calling for "very careful scrutiny" by the judiciary.

"Developments in Hong Kong call into question China's will to uphold its international commitments, undermine trust and impact EU-China relations."

The EU has repeatedly voiced concern at the new Hong Kong security law, which critics say erodes important freedoms in the city. — AFP

September 16, 2020

A Swiss photographer who closed a door on a Chinese mainlander moments before he was assaulted during last year's Hong Kong democracy protests should not be held responsible for the attack, his lawyers argued Wednesday.

Marc Progin, a long-time Hong Kong resident, is facing up to a year in jail for "aiding and abetting public disorder" over the incident in which JP Morgan employee Lin Nan was punched.

Footage of Progin closing the door moments before a masked man assaulted Lin went viral and caused widespread anger in mainland China. 

Prosecutors said Progin, 75, deliberately shut a door leading to JP Morgan's regional headquarters as an argument broke out between a crowd of pro-democracy supporters and Lin last October. 

They argued his actions effectively enabled the assault on Lin and that Progin therefore took part in the unfolding public disorder. 

Defense lawyers said Progin was simply doing his job and that he closed the door to get a better angle to capture the argument through his lens.

Defense counsel Michael Delaney said Progin had no intention to "stop, block or obstruct" Lin and that the behavior of the crowd had nothing to do with Progin. — AFP

September 15, 2020

Hong Kong activists shouted anti-government slogans outside court on Tuesday as more than two dozen high profile democracy campaigners appeared over a banned vigil to mark the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers defied a ban on rallies on June 4 to mark the anniversary of Beijing's deadly suppression of students pushing for democracy.

The annual vigil has been held in Hong Kong for the last three decades and usually attracts huge crowds, but this year's gathering was banned for the first time with authorities citing coronavirus measures — even though local transmission had largely been halted.

The group of defendants represents a broad section of the pro-democracy movement, from 72-year-old media mogul Jimmy Lai to younger campaigners such as Joshua Wong. — AFP

September 6, 2020

An opposition activist was arrested in Hong Kong on Sunday by a new police squad for "uttering seditious words", hours before a rally against a controversial security law.

The arrest of Tam Tak-chi, vice president of radical democratic party People Power, is the latest detention of a high profile democracy supporter in the financial hub and came on the morning Hongkongers had been due to vote in a general election, delayed because of the coronavirus.

An unauthorized protest in opposition to a new law that gives authorities sweeping powers — as well as the poll's postponement and a Beijing-backed Covid-19 testing program — had more than 10,000 online subscribers.

Tam, a former radio presenter known "Fast Beat", was arrested at his home in north east Hong Kong by police officers from the national security squad, although he was not detained under the new law, police said. — AFP

August 12, 2020

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been released from police custody, over a day after being detained under a sweeping security law imposed by China, an AFP journalist saw.

Lai walked free from a Hong Kong police station at roughly midnight (1600 GMT) as cheering supporters greeted his release. — AFP

August 11, 2020

Shares in the parent company of a Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper have skyrocketed nine-fold since its owner was arrested, after enjoying another blockbuster surge Tuesday as activists threw their support behind him.

Next Digital, the media group owned by tycoon Jimmy Lai and which runs the tabloid Apple Daily, rose 214 percent to HK$0.80 in the morning on Tuesday -- meaning it has risen 788 percent since trading began on Monday at HK$0.09.

Lai was arrested on Monday and led in handcuffs through his newspaper office, as part of a sweeping crackdown on dissent since China imposed a security law on the city. — AFP

August 10, 2020

Beijing late Monday hailed the arrest of pro-democracy Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, accusing him of being a "rabble-rouser" who had conspired with foreign forces to undermine China's national security.

"These anti-China rabble-rousers in collusion with foreign forces have seriously jeopardised national security and damaged Hong Kong's stability and prosperity," China's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said in a statement. 

"Jimmy Lai is a representative figure among these people," it added. — AFP

August 10, 2020

Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai was arrested Monday and led in handcuffs through his newspaper office as police raided the building, part of a sweeping crackdown on dissent since China imposed a security law on the city.

Lai, 71, was among seven people detained on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces — one of the new national security offences — and fraud in an operation targeting the Next Media publishing group. 

It was the latest police operation against dissidents since Beijing imposed the law on Hong Kong at the end of June. Two of Lai's sons were among those detained, a police source told AFP.

Journalists working at Lai's Apple Daily took to Facebook to broadcast dramatic footage of police officers conducting the raid, and the newspaper's chief editor Law Wai-kwong demanding a warrant from officers. — AFP

August 10, 2020

Dozens of Hong Kong police officers on Monday searched the headquarters of a media group critical of Beijing hours after its owner Jimmy Lai was arrested under a new national security law.

Live images broadcast on Facebook by Apple Daily's own reporters showed officers searching their newsroom in an industrial park on the outskirts of the international financial hub. — AFP

August 10, 2020

Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai, one of the city's most vocal Beijing critics, was arrested Monday under a new national security law for colluding with foreign forces, deepening a crackdown on democracy supporters.

"They arrested him at his house at about 7am. Our lawyers are on the way to the police station," Mark Simon, a close aide, told AFP, adding that other members of Lai's media group had also been arrested.

A police source speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP Lai was arrested for colluding with foreign forces — one of the new national security offences — and fraud. — AFP

August 1, 2020

Hong Kong's arrest warrants for activists overseas show that exile and foreign nationality are no protection against the city's sweeping national security law, one of the targeted dissidents warn.

Democracy campaigner and US citizen Samuel Chu, who runs the Hong Kong Democracy Council in Washington, says he had learned he is wanted for allegedly "inciting secession and colluding with foreign powers".

Chinese state media earlier reported Hong Kong police had ordered the arrest of six pro-democracy activists living in exile on suspicion of violating the new law. — AFP

July 30, 2020

Uber will keep its Asian headquarters in Singapore for now, the ride-hailing giant says, blaming regulatory uncertainty for thwarting a mooted shift to Hong Kong.

The decision came weeks after China imposed a controversial national security law on Hong Kong -- although Uber did not mention the legislation in its announcement.

The company announced massive layoffs in May due to the coronavirus, and said it was ready to move its regional base to the semi-autonomous Chinese city if there was progress on regulation there. — AFP

July 19, 2020

 Hong Kong's status as a bastion of press freedom is in crisis as authorities toughen their line against international media and fears grow about local self-censorship under the city's sweeping new security law.

For decades the former British colony has been a shining light for journalists in Asia, lying on the fringes of an authoritarian China where the ruling Communist Party keeps a tight grip on public opinion.

The civil liberties that have stewarded the city's success were promised to Hong Kongers for another 50 years under a deal that returned the trading hub to Chinese rule in 1997. — AFP

July 15, 2020

China's new security law has sent a chill through Hong Kong's schools and universities with many teachers fearful the city's reputation for academic freedom and excellence is now at risk.

Just a week after the sweeping legislation was imposed on the territory, staff at some institutions have already been warned by their administrators to be careful how they teach.

"Remain neutral in your teaching and be mindful of the language you use," read one email to staff of HKU SPACE, a college attached to the prestigious University of Hong Kong (HKU). — AFP

July 15, 2020

China says it would retaliate after US President Donald Trump signed into law an act allowing sanctions on banks over Beijing's clampdown on Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Autonomy Act "maliciously slanders" national security legislation imposed by Beijing on the city, China's foreign ministry says in a statement. 

"China will make necessary responses to protect its legitimate interests, and impose sanctions on relevant US personnel and entities," the ministry says. — AFP

July 15, 2020

The New York Times says it was moving its digital news hub from Hong Kong to South Korea as a result of a national security law Beijing imposed on the city. 

"China's sweeping new national security law in Hong Kong has created a lot of uncertainty about what the new rules will mean to our operation and our journalism," executives wrote in an email to staff, according to a news report published on the New York Times website.

"We feel it is prudent to make contingency plans and begin to diversify our editing staff around the region." — AFP

July 14, 2020

China has described a primary by Hong Kong's pro-democracy parties as a "serious provocation", warning that some campaigning may have breached a tough new security law it imposed on the city. 

The comments by the Liaison Office, which represents China's government in the semi-autonomous city, dramatically heightens the risk of prosecution for opposition parties and leading figures.

More than 600,000 Hong Kongers turned out over the weekend to choose candidates for upcoming legislative elections despite warnings from government officials that the exercise could breach Beijing's sweeping new law. — AFP

July 11, 2020

Hong Kong police have raided the office of a prominent opinion pollster that was helping the city's pro-democracy opposition to conduct a primary election, a director of the group says Saturday.

The overnight move came days after China imposed a sweeping new national security law on the financial hub after months of civil unrest last year. — AFP

July 8, 2020

China's opening of a new office allowing its intelligence agents to operate openly in Hong Kong for the first time is a "historic moment" that will help safeguard national security, the city's leader says.

"Today's unveiling ceremony is a historic moment because we are witnessing another milestone in the establishment of a sound legal system and enforcement mechanism for maintaining national security in Hong Kong," Chief Executive Carrie Lam says at a speech during an inauguration ceremony for the new office.

July 8, 2020

China's opening of a new office allowing its intelligence agents to operate openly in Hong Kong for the first time is a "historic moment" that will help safeguard national security, the city's leader said Wednesday.

"Today's unveiling ceremony is a historic moment because we are witnessing another milestone in the establishment of a sound legal system and enforcement mechanism for maintaining national security in Hong Kong," Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a speech during an inauguration ceremony for the new office. — AFP

July 8, 2020

China opens a new office for its security agents to operate publicly in Hong Kong for the first time, state media says.

"The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was inaugurated here on Wednesday morning," the Xinhua news agency says. — AFP

July 6, 2020

The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous city, activist Joshua Wong said Monday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy.

Wong, one of the city's most prominent young activists, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow campaigners were being prosecuted for involvement in civil unrest which rocked Hong Kong last year.

China enacted the security law for the restless city last week, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. — AFP

July 6, 2020

China warned Canada on Monday that it would retaliate over Ottawa's response to a new national security law in Hong Kong, threatening to sink their troubled diplomatic relations to new lows.

Canada last week suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and halted exports of sensitive military gear to the financial hub as Western nations voiced concern about the legislation's impact on the city's special rights.

"China strongly condemns this and reserves the right to make further response. All consequences arising therefrom will be borne by Canada," foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular briefing. — AFP

July 3, 2020

The state media says China appointed a hardliner involved in a clamp down against protests on the mainland as the head of Hong Kong's new security agency, days after imposing a sweeping law on the territory that criminalises dissent.

Zheng Yanxiong will take the helm of the controversial national security agency, a new office set up under the legislation that empowers mainland security agents to operate inside Hong Kong openly for the first time, unbound by the city's laws. — AFP

July 3, 2020

Western nations are moving to offer millions of Hong Kongers refuge after Beijing passed draconian security laws designed to choke the city's democracy movement -- but many obstacles prevent a mass exodus.

The United Kingdom is leading allies in offering nearly half the city's 7.5 million people a potential pathway to British citizenship, with strong indications Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States may also offer some form of asylum. — AFP

July 2, 2020

China warned Britain on Thursday it could retaliate with "corresponding measures" for London's decision to extend a broader path to citizenship for the residents of Hong Kong.

Britain's offer came in response to a sweeping new security law that China unveiled for the former British territory this week.

Hong Kong was under UK jurisdiction until its handover to China in 1997 with a guarantee that Beijing would preserve the city's judicial and legislative autonomy for 50 years. — AFP

July 2, 2020

Australia is actively considering providing safe haven to Hong Kong residents in response to China's sweeping new security law, it said Thursday, a move likely to further inflame tensions with Beijing.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the situation in Hong Kong was "very concerning" and his government was "very actively" considering proposals to welcome in residents of the former British territory.

Asked by a reporter whether Australia could extend an offer of safe haven, Morrison responded "yes." — AFP

July 1, 2020

Hong Kong police make the first arrests under Beijing's new national security law as the anniversary of the city's handover to China was met by thousands defying a ban on protests.

Police deploy water cannon, pepper spray and tear gas throughout the afternoon, arresting more than 180 people, seven of them for breaching the new national security law. 

The confrontations came a day after China imposed its controversial legislation on the restless city, a historic move decried by many Western governments as an unprecedented assault on the finance hub's liberties and autonomy. — AFP

June 30, 2020

Hong Kong's leader says a sweeping national security law imposed on the city by Beijing will come into effect later on Tuesday. 

The government "will complete the necessary procedure for publication by gazette as soon as possible", chief executive Carrie Lam said in a statement. 

"The National Security Law will come into effect later today." — AFP

June 30, 2020

Hong Kong pro-democracy party Demosisto disbands over security law fears — AFP

June 30, 2020

Multiple local media outlets report that China passed a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday in what critics fear will herald a wave of mainland style political repression. 

The National Standing Committee, China’s top lawmaking body, unanimously approved the legislation on Tuesday morning, Now TV, RTHK and the South China Morning Post report. 

Beijing says the law banning subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces is needed to return stability to Hong Kong after a year of angry pro-democracy protests. — AFP 

June 25, 2020

The director of a documentary about Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement says he has deleted a scene featuring a dissident artist playing China's national anthem after a law was passed criminalising "insults" to the revolutionary song.

The revelation illustrates how the new law is already curtailing artistic creativity in semi-autonomous Hong Kong as it seethes with popular anger towards Beijing's rule.

Evans Chan, a Hong Kong-born but US-based producer behind the film "We Have Boots", said he removed a segment after distributors told him they might face legal problems following the passing of the national anthem law earlier this month. — AFP

June 18, 2020

Taiwan will open a special office next month to deal with Hong Kongers wanting to move to the island, including those seeking sanctuary for "political reasons", the government said Thursday.

The announcement comes after President Tsai Ing-wen pledged last month a humanitarian "action plan" for Hong Kongers pushing for democracy in the financial hub.

Tsai's government will cover "necessary expenses" for those who come to Taiwan because their freedom and safety are under threat, said Chen Ming-tong, chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, the island's top China policy-making body.  — AFP

June 9, 2020

Several thousand demonstrators marched in Hong Kong on Tuesday evening — defying authorities a year after huge pro-democracy protests erupted -- as the movement struggles in the face of arrests, coronavirus bans on crowds and a looming national security law.

Seven months of massive and often violent rallies kicked off on June 9 last year when as many as a million people took to the streets to oppose a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China.

As city leaders dug in, battles between police and protesters became routine, leaving the financial hub's reputation for stability in tatters and swathes of the population in open revolt against Beijing's rule.

A year later, protesters are on the back foot with Beijing planning to impose a sweeping law banning subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign interference. — AFP

June 1, 2020

Hong Kong stocks rally more than three percent in early trade Monday after Donald Trump stopped short of imposing sanctions on China over its plans for a security law in the city.

The Hang Seng Index surged 3.30 percent, or 758.56 points, to 23,720.03. — AFP

May 30, 2020

President Donald Trump says he would strip several of Hong Kong's special privileges with the United States and bar some Chinese students from US universities in anger over Beijing's bid to exert control in the financial hub.

In an announcement at the White House that Trump has teased for a day, the US president attacks China over its treatment of the former British colony, saying it was "diminishing the city's long-standing and proud status."

"This is a tragedy for the people of Hong Kong, the people of China and indeed the people of the world," Trump says. — AFP 

May 29, 2020

The United States and Britain have called for the UN Security Council to meet Friday to discuss a controversial security law that China plans to impose on Hong Kong, diplomatic sources said Thursday. 

The subject will be considered in an informal, closed-door videoconference in a format that allows any member to raise various issues and which China cannot in principle oppose, according to the same sources. 

On Wednesday, Beijing had refused to allow a formal Security Council meeting called by Washington on the same subject to proceed. — AFP

May 27, 2020

Hong Kong police fired pepper ball rounds on Wednesday at protesters in the city's commercial district ahead of a debate in the legislature over a law that bans insulting China's national anthem.

A few hundred protesters chanted slogans during a lunchtime rally in the city's Central district but dispersed when officers fired multiple rounds of irritant-filled pellets, AFP reporters on the scene said. — AFP

May 27, 2020

US President Donald Trump warns that Hong Kong could lose its status as a global financial center if a proposed Chinese crackdown goes ahead, and promises a "very interesting" US response within days.

The Chinese legislation would ban secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference after months of massive, often-violent pro-democracy protests last year in the semi-autonomous territory. Hong Kong's chief executive, Carrie Lam, said Tuesday that essential freedoms would remain. — AFP

May 24, 2020

Police fired tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday, as hundreds of pro-democracy campaigners gathered in their first rally after China sparked outrage with a proposed new security law.

The protesters were marching between the busy districts of Wan Chai and Causeway Bay when the tear gas was fired, after earlier police warnings against the assembly. — AFP

April 6, 2020

A former Hong Kong lawmaker was convicted on Monday of using a loudhailer to assault police officers during huge pro-democracy protests that convulsed the finance hub last year.

Au Nok-hin is the first former member of the city's legislature to be successfully prosecuted for taking part in the protests and the most high profile figure convicted to date.

Hong Kong's courts have a huge backlog of cases stemming from last year's protests which dominated the city for seven straight months and upended its reputation for stability.

Some 7,000 people were arrested, many of them youngsters, in the near-daily clashes between riot police and protesters. — AFP 

February 13, 2020

China appoints a senior official known for a hardline crackdown on Christians to head its main policy-making body for Hong Kong, following months of pro-democracy protests in the semi-autonomous city.

The reshuffle comes after months of political unrest -- the starkest challenge to Beijing since the former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Senior Beijing official Xia Baolong, currently secretary-general at the national committee of China's top political advisory body, was promoted to director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council. — AFP

January 13, 2020

Human Rights Watch chief Kenneth Roth says he had been denied entry into Hong Kong, where he had arrived to launch the watchdog's annual report after months of civil unrest in the city.

Hong Kong has been battered by nearly seven months of occasionally violent protests, its biggest political crisis in decades. Millions have turned out on the streets of the semi-autonomous financial hub to demand greater democratic freedoms.

Roth was to give a press conference on Wednesday to unveil his organisation's latest global survey, which accuses China of prosecuting "an intensive attack" on international human rights agencies.


January 10, 2020

Nearly one in three adults in Hong Kong reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder during months of often violent social unrest in the city, according to a study published in The Lancet medical journal Friday.

And around one in 10 had symptoms of probable depression, figures comparable to those seen in areas of armed conflict or following terrorist attacks, the decade-long study led by researchers from the University of Hong Kong found.

Prevalence of PTSD symptoms was six times higher than after the last major pro-democracy "Occupy" protests in 2014, rising from about five percent in March 2015 to almost 32%  in September-November 2019.

The increase corresponds to an additional 1·9 million adults with PTSD symptoms in the city of 7.4 million.

Up to 11% of adults reported symptoms of depression, from around two percent before the Occupy protests, and 6.5% in 2017, the study estimated. — AFP

January 10, 2020

Nearly one in three adults in Hong Kong reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder during months of often violent social unrest in the city, according to a study published in The Lancet medical journal Friday.

And around one in 10 had symptoms of probable depression, figures comparable to those seen in areas of armed conflict or following terrorist attacks, the decade-long study led by researchers from the University of Hong Kong found.

Prevalence of PTSD symptoms was six times higher than after the last major pro-democracy "Occupy" protests in 2014, rising from about five percent in March 2015 to almost 32 percent in September-November 2019. — AFP

January 6, 2020

Beijing's new top envoy to Hong Kong said he hoped the protest ravaged city would "return to the right path" as he took up his post on Monday.

Luo Huining replaced Wang Zhimin as head of Beijing's Liaison Office in Hong Kong — the most significant personnel change by China since violent pro-democracy protests erupted in the city nearly seven months ago.

The 65-year-old Luo delivered a short statement to reporters in Mandarin  not the city's lingua franca Cantonese. 

He gave little clue as to whether Beijing's approach towards the city would change as it convulses with popular anger against mainland rule.

"In the past six months, Hong Kong's situation has made everybody's heart wrench. Everyone earnestly hopes that Hong Kong can return to the right path," Luo said, declining to take questions from reporters. — AFP

January 1, 2020

Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters thronged the streets of Hong Kong for a massive rally on New Year's Day as demonstrators look to carry the momentum of their months-old movement into 2020.

Hong Kong has been battered by nearly seven months of unrest, which was sparked by a proposal to allow extraditions to mainland China but morphed into a larger revolt against what many fear is Beijing's tightening control.

Demonstrators gathered in Victoria Park to march across Hong Kong's main island, through the Causeway Bay district -- usually packed with tourists and shoppers -- to Central, the commercial heart of the international financial hub.

"It is sad that our demands from 2019 need to be carried forward to 2020," said Jimmy Sham of the Civil Human Rights Front, the umbrella group that organised the rally to put pressure on the city's government to respond to protesters' demands. -- AFP

December 26, 2019

Hong Kong endured a third straight day of political unrest over the Christmas period Thursday as police and pro-democracy protesters clashed inside shopping malls.

Protesters spent the afternoon on Thursday marching through multiple malls chanting anti-government and anti-police slogans.

Riot police swooped on dozens of black-clad protesters in one mall in Tai Po district using pepper spray as well as blue dye to mark suspects, said an AFP reporter on the scene. 

Police made multiple arrests. — AFP

December 23, 2019

Hong Kong should "continue to be free and open", Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the Chinese president on Monday, as the city is rocked by months of pro-democracy protests.

Abe met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing ahead of flying to the southwestern city of Chengdu to join a trilateral meeting Tuesday, which will also be attended by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

In a press briefing after the Xi-Abe meeting, Otaka Masato — spokesman for the Japanese minister of foreign affairs -- said Abe "urged China to continue its self-restraint" over Hong Kong and expressed "hope for an early resolution of the situation".

The two leaders also discussed North Korea and the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, the spokesman said, and Xi "asked for support" for a joint China-Russia draft UN resolution which proposed easing sanctions against the nuclear-armed state. — AFP

December 21, 2019

Hong Kong police on Saturday say an armed suspect fired a live round at officers as they tried to arrest him in an operation linked to the months of pro-democracy protests engulfing the city.

Police say a 19-year-old man pulled a semi-automatic pistol from his waistband as officers approached him in Tai Po district on Friday evening.

The shot did not hit anyone and the man was subdued.

A subsequent search of a nearby flat uncovered an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and more than 250 rounds of ammunition. — Agence France-Presse

December 17, 2019

The former Portuguese colony of Macau will this week celebrate 20 years since its return to China, with Beijing's leaders praising a pliant city that has grown rich on gambling and deference to authoritarian rule.

The jubilation will be in contrast to the mood in neighboring Hong Kong, the only other region run under the "one country, two systems" model which has endured six months of often violent pro-democracy protests.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend Friday's anniversary celebrations in Macau, where the population of 700,000 has expressed little of the Hong Kong-style dissent.

"(Macau) is like the good boy in a family," Larry So, a Hong Kong-born social scientist who taught and has retired in Macau, tells AFP. — Agence France-Presse

December 14, 2019

Police say five Hong Kong teenagers have been arrested in connection with the death of a man hit on the head by a brick during clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters last month.

The three males and two females aged 15 to 18 were arrested on Friday on suspicion of murder, rioting and wounding and had been detained pending further investigation, police say in a statement.

The incident occurred in mid-November as the pro-democracy movement was in its fifth month, with hardcore demonstrators engaged in a "blossom everywhere" campaign across the city to stretch police resources. — AFP

December 9, 2019

Hong Kongers have delivered a clarion call for change over the last fortnight with a landslide local election defeat for the government and more than one in ten hitting the streets peacefully on Sunday — but will Beijing listen?

Monday marks the sixth month anniversary of a movement that has upended the semi-autonomous Chinese hub's reputation for stability and blanketed its streets with unprecedented scenes of political violence.

But the last two weeks has seen a dramatic drop-off in clashes and vandalism — something the city's pro-Beijing leadership has insisted must be a precursor to any meaningful dialogue.

The question on many lips now is whether chief executive Carrie Lam — and Beijing — will take the opportunity to reach out before anger explodes once more.

"Ignoring our voices will only make the snowball get bigger and bigger and there will be consequences to that," Bonnie Leung, a prominent figure within the pro-democracy movement's more moderate wing, told AFP. — Agence France-Presse

December 8, 2019

Vast crowds of democracy protesters thronged Hong Kong's streets on Sunday in a forceful display of support for the movement on its six-month anniversary, as organizers warned the city's pro-Beijing leaders they had a "last chance" to end the political crisis.

Tens of thousands snaked their way through the financial hub's main island under crisp winter skies in what looked set to be the biggest turnout in months.

The rally, which received rare police permission, comes two weeks after pro-establishment parties got a drubbing in local elections, shattering government claims that a "silent majority" opposed the protests.

Many of those attending voiced anger that chief executive Carrie Lam and Beijing have ruled out any further concessions despite the landslide election defeat. — Agence France-Presse

December 2, 2019

Video messages featuring young Hong Kongers reciting what could be their last words before joining a protest are filling up the inbox of Glacier Kwong, a digital rights activist based in Germany.

Outside China's internet controls, this veteran of the pro-democracy movement works late into the night from her home in Hamburg, offering practical support for protesters on the other side of the world.

She helps find lawyers for those who have been arrested, offers advice on how they should protect themselves online and stores the encrypted sensitive documents they do not want China to see.

Lately, her correspondence has made for grim viewing.

In the last couple of weeks, as the demonstrations turned deadly, protesters have recorded messages for posterity in case something should happen to them.

"I don't feel comfortable keeping that information but I think at least the Hong Kong police or the Chinese government cannot get to me," Kwong tells AFP. — Agence France-Presse

December 1, 2019

Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters returned to the streets on Sunday for a series of marches and rallies after a rare period of calm in nearly six months of unrest.

Sunday's demonstrations come after brief skirmishes erupted overnight, with a man assaulted as he tried to clear barricades and police firing tear gas for the first time since November 24 district council elections that saw pro-democracy candidates win a landslide.

Three events are planned for Sunday, including a march to the US consulate to thank American leaders for legislation backing the city's protest movement.

An evening march will reiterate the movement's five demands, which include direct elections for the city's legislature and leadership, and a probe into alleged police brutality against demonstrators. -- Agence France-Presse

November 29, 2019

Low-cost carrier Hong Kong Airlines says it will delay salary payments to some staff, warning its business has been "severely affected" by the political unrest in the city.

Nearly six months of protests in the international finance hub have dealt its tourism sector a massive blow, and airlines serving the city have struggled.

"Hong Kong Airlines' business is severely affected by the social unrest in Hong Kong and a sustained weak travel demand," the carrier says in a statement. — AFP

November 29, 2019

Hong Kong police end their two-week siege of a university campus that became a battleground with pro-democracy protesters as activists vowed to hold fresh rallies and strikes in the coming days.

Renewed calls to hit the streets came after Beijing and city leader Carrie Lam refused further political concessions despite a landslide victory for pro-democracy parties in local elections last weekend.

Sunday's district council polls delivered a stinging rebuke to the financial hub's pro-Beijing establishment and undermined their argument that a silent majority were tired of the nearly six months of increasingly violent protests. — AFP

November 28, 2019

China's foreign ministry summons the US ambassador, urging Washington to refrain from applying a bill supporting Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement to "avoid further damage" to relations.

Chinese vice foreign minister Le Yucheng lodged a "strong protest" with Ambassador Terry Branstad and demanded that the United States "correct its mistakes and change course", the ministry says in a statement. — AFP

November 28, 2019

China warns that it is ready to take "firm countermeasures" against the United States after President Donald Trump signed a law supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

"The nature of this is extremely abominable, and harbours absolutely sinister intentions," the foreign ministry says in a statement, without specifying what measures Beijing might take.


November 28, 2019

President Donald Trump signed a law supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, likely angering Beijing just as Washington was hoping to ease a US-China trade war.

Trump had seemed reluctant to sign the bill but with almost unanimous US congressional support for the measure, he had little political room to maneuver.

In a statement, Trump spoke of "respect" for Chinese President Xi Jinping and said he hoped the "leaders and representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences." — AFP

November 27, 2019

President Donald Trump offers lukewarm support to Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, saying he trusts President Xi Jinping to resolve the crisis, as US-Chinese trade talks enter their "final throes."

"We're with them," Trump says of the protesters who delivered a landslide victory for pro-democracy candidates in local elections and have battled police for weeks in street demonstrations.

But Trump immediately backpedalled, emphasizing his close ties to Xi and efforts to secure a long-delayed resolution to the trade war between the world's two biggest economies. — AFP

November 26, 2019

Officials at a Hong Kong university where police and protesters clashed violently a week ago say they had searched the entire campus and found just one remaining holdout in a sign the campus siege may be near an end.

Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) emerged as the epicentre of the territory's increasingly violent protest movement when clashes broke out on November 17 between police and protesters armed with bows, arrows and Molotov cocktails.

The standoff then quickly settled into a tense stalemate during which hundreds fled the campus -- some attempting to get out through sewer lines -- leaving a dwindling core of holdouts. — AFP

November 26, 2019

China has summoned the US ambassador to demand that United States scrap legislation backing Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, or "bear all the consequences", the foreign ministry says.

The Hong Kong bill awaiting President Donald Trump's signature supports human rights and democracy in the city, while threatening to revoke the territory's special economic status.

A separate measure bans the sale of tear gas, rubber bullets and other equipment used by the security forces to suppress pro-democracy protests. — AFP

November 24, 2019

Hong Kong voters turned out in high numbers on Sunday for district council elections that the city's pro-democracy movement hopes will add pressure on the Beijing-backed government to hear their demands.

Hong Kong has been buffeted by months of mass rallies and violent clashes pitting police against protesters agitating for greater democracy in the Chinese territory.

The poll to choose 452 councillors handling community-level concerns like bus routes and garbage collection has traditionally generated little excitement, but takes on new importance with this year's unrest.

The councils have long been dominated by the city's pro-Beijing bloc, and voters seeking change said they hope that weakening the establishment's grip will give fresh momentum to the democracy movement. — Agence France-Presse

November 24, 2019

Hong Kong voted in district council elections Sunday in a ballot the city's pro-democracy movement hoped would send a message to the Beijing-backed government.

The run-up to Sunday's polls has seen a muting of major rallies and violent clashes between police and protesters, respite for a city battered by nearly six months of unprecedented political unrest.

Protest forums have urged citizens to vote and to pause acts of disruption in case the government pushes back the polls, which opened at 7:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) for 4.1 million registered voters.

Posts by pro-democracy users on the popular online board LiHKG urged supporters "not to jeopardise the election".

The district council polls normally stir little excitement, dominated by candidates allied to the China-backed government with a remit over everyday tasks such as rubbish collections and planning decisions. -- Agence France-Presse

November 23, 2019

US President Donald Trump says he had saved Hong Kong from being destroyed by persuading Chinese President Xi Jinping to hold off on sending in troops to crush its pro-democracy movement.

"If it weren't for me, Hong Kong would have been obliterated in 14 minutes," Trump says in a scattershot early morning interview with Fox News.

Trump's comments come as he mulls signing congressionally-approved legislation in support of the pro-democracy activists -- or bow to Beijing's threats of retaliation if the law is enacted. — AFP

November 23, 2019

Hong Kong medical workers express outrage over the arrests this week of a number of colleagues at a university campus occupied by pro-democracy protesters, and call on the government to allow them to do their jobs.

Darren Mann, a city doctor, says that he and other medical workers had volunteered Sunday to treat injuries at the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), which saw fiery clashes between police and pro-democracy protesters.

When police that night declared that anyone on the campus was subject to arrest for rioting, those detained included teams of medical workers -- even though many wore vests clearly identifying themselves as first-aid personnel. — AFP

November 22, 2019

Abuse, threats, protests and police cordons: first-time candidate Kwan Siu Lun says campaigning for this weekend's district elections in Hong Kong has been a dangerous business in the white heat of the city's political crisis.

Polling stations are due to open across Hong Kong on Sunday morning as the semi-autonomous city of 7.5 million votes for district councillors, in a ballot seen as a gauge of the popularity of Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the pro-Beijing government.

In normal times, district elections are tame, hyper-local affairs dominated by candidates allied to the China-backed government with a remit over rubbish collections and planning decisions. — AFP

November 21, 2019

Hardline Hong Kong protesters hold their ground in a university besieged for days by police as the US passed a bill lauding the city's pro-democracy movement, setting up a likely clash between Washington and Beijing.

Beijing did not immediately respond to the passage in Washington of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which voices strong support for the "democratic aspirations of the Hong Kong people."

But China had already threatened retaliation if the bill is signed into law by President Donald Trump, and state-run media warned Thursday the legislation would not prevent Beijing from intervening forcefully to stop the "mess" gripping the financial hub. — AFP

November 20, 2019

China's foreign ministry summons a top US diplomat over the Senate's passing of a Hong Kong rights bill, warning of "strong" countermeasures against the United States should the legislation be signed into law.

Vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu called in acting charge d'affaires William Klein to lodge a "strong protest", the ministry says in a statement.

"We strongly urge the US side to immediately take effective measures to prevent this bill from becoming law" and stop meddling in China's internal affairs, the statement says.

"Otherwise, the Chinese side will take strong measures to resolutely counter it, and the US side must bear all the consequences," it says. — AFP

November 19, 2019

Arms covered in cling film and torches in hand as they drop into the sewers, clusters of pro-democracy protesters still inside a Hong Kong campus are plotting increasingly ingenious -- and desperate -- ways to escape a police siege.

Among the detritus of a scorched and graffiti-sprayed concourse at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, several plastic covers -- some with torches placed above them -- betray extraordinary underground escape plans.

Protesters have removed metal manholes, some making exploratory forays into the fetid tunnels, following rumours of successful exfiltrations from a campus ringed for three days by baton-wielding police determined to arrest them.

Pockets of protesters, some with thick bandages wrapped around their knees in anticipation of a long crawl to freedom, knot the holes discussing an unlikely -- and highly dangerous -- breakout.  -- Agence France-Presse

November 19, 2019

China insisted Tuesday it alone held the authority to rule on constitutional matters in Hong Kong, as it condemned a decision by the city's high court to overturn a ban on face masks worn by pro-democracy protesters.

The statement raised hackles among activists in Hong Kong after months of violent protests over concerns that Beijing is chipping away at the autonomy of the financial hub.

The ban on face-covering came into force in October, when the city's unelected pro-Beijing leader invoked colonial-era legislation for the first time in more than 50 years.

The move was seen as a watershed legal moment for the city since its 1997 return by Britain to China -- but has been largely symbolic. -- Agence France-Presse

November 17, 2019

A police officer was struck in the leg by an arrow shot by a Hong Kong protester on Sunday, the city's force says.

Graphic images showed the arrow embedded in the calf of the police officer, who was working at the scene of fierce clashes at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on the force's media liaison team. — Agence France-Presse

November 16, 2019

Government supporters took to the streets of downtown Hong Kong on Saturday after a chaotic working week saw hardcore pro-democracy activists cause widespread disruption in the city and stretch police resources.

A "Blossom Everywhere" campaign of roadblocks and vandalism across the semi-autonomous financial hub shut down large chunks of the train network and forced schools and shopping malls to close.

Students and protesters occupied several major universities around the city -- the first time a movement characterised by its fluidity and unpredictability has coagulated in fixed locations -- although as dusk fell on Friday, numbers had thinned out.

November 16, 2019

Organizers say Clockenflap, Hong Kong's biggest music festival, has been cancelled, the highest-profile event so far to fall victim to the increasingly violent political unrest engulfing the city.

British folk-rock sensations Mumford & Sons and American star Halsey were among the headliners for the festival this year, which was scheduled for November 22-24.

"Due to the escalation of the crisis this week, and therefore the uncertainty this creates for the coming weeks, Clockenflap 2019 will be cancelled," the organizers say in a statement. — AFP

November 13, 2019

Police and university officials say Mainland Chinese students have begun fleeing Hong Kong campuses over security fears as the city's seething political crisis saw some of its worst violence this week.

The most intense clashes on Tuesday occurred at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where pitched battles were fought with the police firing tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets and protesters throwing petrol bombs and bricks, paralysing the campus and the area around it.

A group of mainland students at CUHK attempted to depart the campus Wednesday morning over safety concerns but had to be shuttled away by boat because they were unable to leave via obstructed roads, the police say. — AFP

November 13, 2019

Pro-democracy protesters step up Wednesday a "blossom everywhere" campaign of road blocks and vandalism across Hong Kong that has crippled the international financial hub this week and ignited some of the worst violence in five months of unrest.

The new phase in the crisis, which has forced schools and shopping malls to close as well as the shutdown of large chunks of the vital train network, prompted police to warn on Tuesday the city was "on the brink of total collapse".

China, facing the biggest challenge to its rule of the territory since it was handed back by the British in 1997, has insisted it will not buckle to the pressure and warned of tougher security measures.

On Wednesday, commuters across many parts of the city woke to the increasingly familiar scenario of roads choked with bricks, bicycles, couches and other materials that had been laid out by the protesters overnight to block traffic.

Various lines on the subway, used by more than half of the city's 7.5 million people daily, were also suspended due to vandalism, forcing many workers to stay at home. — Agence France-Presse

November 13, 2019

Hong Kong awakes to a third straight day of chaos  following a night of intense battles between pro-democracy protesters and riot police on a university campus that saw some of the most violent scenes in more than five months of unrest.

Morning commuters were faced with closed metro stations, a suspended rail line and dozens of cancelled bus services a day after police warned that the rule of law in the territory was on "the brink of total collapse".

On Tuesday, the Chinese University of Hong Kong campus was the epicentre of the protests. The clashes raged well into the night, despite faculty and staff trying to mediate, with flames lighting up the night sky and dense clouds of acrid smoke. — AFP

November 12, 2019

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters clashed with riot police in the city's upmarket business district and on university campuses Tuesday, extending one of the most violent stretches of unrest seen in more than five months of political chaos.

The confrontations followed a particularly brutal day on Monday, when police shot a protester and a man was set on fire, prompting calls from western powers for compromise but further fury in China against the challenge to its rule.

"Hong Kong's rule of law has been pushed to the brink of total collapse," police spokesman Kong Wing-cheung told a press conference on Tuesday afternoon as he denounced the latest rounds of violence. -- Agence France-Presse

November 12, 2019

Hong Kong protesters strike the city's transport network for a second day running as western powers voiced concern over spiralling violence after police shot a young demonstrator and another man was set on fire.

The flare-up is the latest in the 24 straight weeks of increasingly violent rallies in Hong Kong, aimed at securing greater democratic freedoms from China.

Small bands of masked protesters blocked roads, threw objects onto rail tracks and held up subway trains, sparking cat-and-mouse clashes with riot police and renewed chaos throughout the day. — AFP

November 10, 2019

Hong Kong's police watchdog is currently unequipped to investigate the force's handling of months of pro-democracy protests, a panel of international experts appointed by the city's own government has found.

The international finance hub has been upended by five months of huge and increasingly violent rallies, but Beijing has refused to give in to most of the movement's demands.

One of the core demands, alongside fully free elections, is an independent inquiry into the police, who have been left to battle protesters for 24 consecutive weeks and are now loathed by large chunks of the deeply polarised population.

City leader Carrie Lam has repeatedly dismissed an independent probe, saying the current watchdog -- the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) -- is up to the job.

Protesters argue the IPCC lacks adequate investigatory powers, is stacked with pro-establishment figures and has previously been toothless when it comes to holding the police to account. — Agence France-Presse

November 9, 2019

Hong Kong police say they have arrested three pro-democracy lawmakers over a brawl in parliament, deepening the city's crisis a day after the death of a student sent tensions soaring.

The international finance hub has been upended by five months of huge and increasingly violent pro-democracy protests but Beijing has refused to give in to most of the movement's demands.

With the city bracing for a 24th consecutive weekend of rallies, police brought charges against three key pro-democracy lawmakers while four other lawmakers said they had been ordered to attend a police station later Saturday to be booked. — AFP

November 8, 2019

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters call for city-wide vigils to mourn a student who died from injuries sustained when he fell during clashes with police.

The calls for candle-lit vigils on Friday evening were made on online messaging boards used by the largely anonymous protest movement. — AFP

November 8, 2019

China has slammed radical protesters in Hong Kong as "mobsters" using violence to influence upcoming local elections, after a pro-Beijing lawmaker was injured in a stabbing.

The international finance hub has been shaken by five months of huge and increasingly violent protests calling for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability.

With Beijing and Hong Kong's unpopular leader Carrie Lam refusing to offer a political solution to the protesters' grievances, violence has spiralled on both sides of the ideological divide. — AFP

November 6, 2019

A firebrand pro-Beijing politician in Hong Kong has been wounded in a knife attack, the latest tit-for-tat political violence to break out in a city engulfed by months of pro-democracy protests. 

Video posted online showed the moment the attack took place. 

A man holding a bouquet of flowers approached Junius Ho on Wednesday morning as the politician was campaigning with party members in his constituency of Tuen Mun, a town on the outskirts of Hong Kong near the border with China.

The man gave Ho the flowers, asked to take a picture and then pulled a knife from his bag before striking his victim in the chest.

Ho and his aides quickly subdued the man who could be heard shouting in Cantonese: "Junius Ho, you scum!" — AFP

November 5, 2019

Hong Kong's economic woes show no sign of easing after a key measure of business confidence fell to its lowest level in more than a decade as the city reels from the global trade war and violent democracy protests.

The Purchasing Managers Index -- which measures the health of the private sector -- dropped to 39.3 in October, its worst reading since 2008 during the global financial crisis, heaping fresh misery on the unrest-plagued city.

The international finance has been plunged into a recession by the fallout from the China-US trade war and five months of seething pro-democracy protests that Beijing has taken a hardline approach against. — AFP

November 5, 2019

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed a "high degree of trust" in Hong Kong's unpopular leader Carrie Lam as the two met in Shanghai, state media says, days after the Communist Party agreed to change the way it picks or removes the city's top official.

Xi also called for "effective efforts" to be made in improving people's lives and having a dialogue with all sectors of society, according to the official Xinhua news agency following Monday's meeting at the China International Import Expo.

"Lam has led the SAR government to fully discharge its duties, strive to stabilize the situation and improve the social atmosphere, and has done a lot of hard work," the Chinese president said, according to Xinhua. — AFP

November 4, 2019

Chinese state-run media on Monday call for a "tougher line" on democracy protesters in Hong Kong, after a weekend of violence following Beijing's plans to tighten control over the semi-autonomous city.

Hardcore demonstrators in the financial hub smashed the windows of the official Xinhua news agency's regional bureau on Saturday, capping another weekend of unrest that also saw scores of arrests and a gruesome attack on a pro-democracy lawmaker.

"Intensifying violence in Hong Kong calls for tougher line to restore order," the state-run China Daily, an English-language mainland newspaper, says in an editorial.

The protesters "court the indulgence extended to them by friendly local and Western media outlets, while seeking to silence those trying to put the protests in the spotlight of truth," the daily said.

"They are doomed to fail simply because their violence will encounter the full weight of the law." — Agence France-Presse

November 3, 2019

Hong Kong police fire tear gas and water cannon as thousands of democracy protesters defied authorities in another unsanctioned march after Beijing vowed to tighten control over the restless city.

Commercial districts on the main island turn into a battleground as crowds of black-clad protesters, many wearing face masks despite a recent ban, clashed for hours with riot police.

Hardcore protesters hurl bricks and petrol bombs and vandalised multiple subway stations and businesses perceived to be pro-China -- including the office of China's state-run Xinhua news agency, which had its windows smashed. — AFP

November 2, 2019

Thousands of protesters hit the streets of Hong Kong on Saturday, defying police with an unsanctioned march as the democracy movement shows no signs of abating after nearly five months.

Crowds of black-clad protesters, many wearing face masks despite a recent ban, filled Causeway Bay, a popular shopping district, as tensions built with riot police who had flooded the area.

The march came a day after China gave its latest warning that it would not tolerate any challenge to Hong Kong's governing system and planned to boost patriotic education in the city, which has seen 22 consecutive weekends of youth-led protests. 

Hong Kong has been upended by the huge, often violent, pro-democracy protests which have battered the financial hub's reputation for stability and helped plunge the city into recession.

Beijing has shown no willingness to meet protester demands for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability -- and activists show no sign of leaving the streets as violence escalates on both sides. -- Agence France-Presse

October 29, 2019

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong is being barred from standing in an upcoming local election, after months of huge and frequently violent protests in the city.

Wong, one of the most prominent figures in the otherwise leaderless and faceless movement, accused the government of "political screening" after an election officer ruled his nomination for the November poll invalid. 

"I strongly condemn the government for conducting political screening and censorship, depriving me of my political rights," he says in a statement on his Facebook page. — AFP

October 26, 2019

A Hong Kong court has banned people from publishing a wide range of personal details about police officers and their families, including photos, in a bid to halt "doxxing" by pro-democracy protesters.

The temporary injunction, uploaded on government websites overnight, was criticised by some on Saturday for its broad wording and for further shielding the identity of officers as they clash with protesters.

The semi-autonomous Chinese city has been battered by nearly five months of seething pro-democracy rallies in which police and protesters have fought increasingly violent battles.

The police force says many of its officers have had personal details leaked online -- known as "doxxing" -- and family members harassed as a result. — AFP

October 21, 2019

Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leader and the city's police chief visited a mosque on Monday that was struck with blue dye from a water cannon during the latest bout of violent protests.

The entrance to the Kowloon Mosque, the international hub's largest, was sprayed by a water cannon truck on Sunday, causing anger among both local Muslims and protesters.

Police use the dye — often mixed with an irritant — as a way to identify protesters but it has frequently left streets and buildings daubed in a garish blue.

Video footage shot Sunday showed the truck pulling up outside the building during confrontations with protesters, pausing and then spraying around half a dozen journalists and bystanders who were gathered on the street outside.

The group, who did not appear to be protesters, was struck twice, with much of the bright blue jet painting the mosque's entrance and steps.

Police released a statement on Sunday saying the mosque was hit by mistake but did not apologize. — Agence France-Presse

October 20, 2019

Large crowds of Hong Kongers defy a police ban and began an illegal march on Sunday, their numbers swollen by anger over the recent stabbing and beating of two pro-democracy protesters.

Authorities had forbidden the march in Tsim Sha Tsui, a densely packed shopping district filled with luxury boutiques and hotels, citing public safety and previous violence from hardcore protesters.

But thousands joined the unsanctioned rally regardless as the movement tries to keep up pressure on the city's pro-Beijing leaders after nearly five months of rallies and political unrest. -- Agence France-Presse

October 19, 2019

Supporters of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement make their presence felt as the Brooklyn Nets played their first game in New York since they were caught in the middle of the NBA's rift with China.

Tensions between Beijing and the American basketball league erupted this month after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted an image in support of the demonstrations that have rocked the financial hub for months. 

China has portrayed the protesters as violent separatists and the backlash against Morey's comments has cast a cloud over the NBA's lucrative broadcasting, merchandising and sponsorship interests in the country, where it has legions of fans. — AFP

October 18, 2019

China denies that it demanded that the NBA fire a Houston Rockets executive over a tweet supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey ignited a firestorm earlier this month with a tweeted image captioned "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong."

It came right before the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets arrived in China for what proved to be a tense two-game exhibition tour, with broadcasters refusing to air the games and local sponsors cutting ties with the NBA. — AFP

October 18, 2019

NBA commissioner Adam Silver says China demanded that a Houston Rockets executive be sacked for supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, adding that the league's row with Beijing had "substantial" financial consequences.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey ignited a firestorm earlier this month with a tweeted image captioned "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong."

It came right before the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets arrived in China for what proved to be a tense two-game exhibition tour, with broadcasters there refusing to air the games, public protests against Morey's comments and local sponsors cutting ties with the NBA. — AFP

October 10, 2019

Apple has removed a Hong Kong map application used by pro-democracy protesters, saying it endangered police, after China warned the US tech giant to drop the app.

According to a statement published by the makers of HKmap.live, Apple says "your app has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong".

The financial hub has been gripped by protests for four months, and there have been regular clashes between hardcore demonstrators and police. — AFP

October 9, 2019

China's state media accuses Apple of supporting pro-democracy protesters, warning the US tech giant would suffer consequences for its "unwise and reckless" decision, in an echo of campaigns against other Western firms.

An opinion piece in the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, highlights a transport app available on Apple's store that it alleged helped protesters identify police in Hong Kong.  

"Apple's approval for the app obviously helps rioters," the article says. — AFP

"Does this mean Apple intended to be an accomplice to the rioters?"

October 8, 2019

The NBA is "not apologising" for a tweet from a Houston Rockets executive supporting Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests, the organisation's commissioner says, despite a backlash in China.

"We are not apologising for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression," NBA chief Adam Silver says, referring to Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

"I regret, again having communicated directly with many friends in China, that so many people are upset, including millions and millions of our fans," Silver adds. — AFP

October 8, 2019

Hong Kong's under-fire leader Carrie Lam says she would not rule out accepting help from mainland China in tackling increasingly violent pro-democracy protests. 

The financial hub has been gripped by four months of rallies, and last weekend saw much of the city grind to a halt as masked demonstrators took to the streets in defiance of a controversial ban on face coverings.

Lam's decision last Friday to invoke colonial-era emergency powers -- not used for half a century -- to impose the ban sparked some of the most violent scenes since the crisis began, as hardcore protesters trashed dozens of subway stations, vandalised shops with mainland China ties, built fires and blocked roads. — AFP

October 5, 2019

Hong Kong's embattled leader on Saturday condemns pro-democracy protesters who trashed subway stations and shops the night before as "rioters" who had left much of the strife-torn city frightened and paralyzed.

"The extreme actions of rioters created a very dark night for Hong Kong and made Hong Kong society semi-paralyzed today," chief executive Carrie Lam says in a video statement.

"Everyone is very worried and concerned, or even scared.

"Extremely terrifying violence occurred in all districts in Hong Kong," she adds. "The extreme actions done by masked rioters were shocking".-- Agence France-Presse

October 5, 2019

Strife-torn Hong Kong has been dropped from the 2019-20 Forumula E season as the city is battered by four months of violent pro-democracy protests that show no sign of abating.

Organizers released next season's calendar late Friday with the semi-autonomous city noticeably absent for the first time since 2016.

The release made no mention of why Hong Kong had been dropped.

But the South China Morning Post said organizers feared they could not risk putting on the event given the major protests now coursing through the city.

"The recent social unrest put a big question mark on the possibility of starting the event in March," Edward Yu, governor of the Hong Kong Automobile Association, is quoted as saying.

"If something were to happen on the day of the event because of social unrest, and they cannot start, it will be a big loss," he adds. -- Agence France-Presse

October 5, 2019

Hong Kong's entire mass transit rail system was suspended on Saturday after a night of violence sparked by a ban on pro-democracy protesters wearing face masks, as the government invoked emergency powers not used in more than half a century.

The ban was aimed at quelling nearly four months of unrest but instead sparked widespread clashes and vows of defiance, with a 14-year-old boy reportedly shot and wounded.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she made the order under the Emergency Regulations Ordinances -- a sweeping colonial-era provision that allows her to bypass the legislature and make any law during a time of emergency or public danger.

Protests immediately broke out across Hong Kong, initially with large crowds of office workers blocking roads in the heart of the commercial district. -- Agence France-Presse

October 4, 2019

Hong Kong's leader announces a ban on protesters wearing face masks, invoking colonial-era emergency powers for the first time in 52 years, in a bid to quell months of violent anti-government unrest. 

Chief executive Carrie Lam says she had made the order under the Emergency Regulations Ordinances, a sweeping provision that grants her the ability to make any law during a time of emergency or public danger.

"We believe that the new law will create a deterrent effect against masked violent protesters and rioters, and will assist the police in its law enforcement," Lam says. — AFP

October 3, 2019

He may have become a far-right internet meme in the West, but Pepe the Frog's image is being rehabilitated in Hong Kong where democracy protesters have embraced him as an irreverent symbol of their resistance.

Throughout the more than 100 days of protests rocking the international finance hub, banners featuring the cartoon frog and stuffed toys of the amphibian have become ubiquitous, providing much-needed moments of levity as the violence escalates.

Pepe fervour reached new heights on Monday night when hundreds of demonstrators -- many festooned with stickers or holding cuddly toys -- formed a human chain along the city's harbourfront, chanting slogans and singing protest songs.

Some of the Pepe toys brought by the largely young participants were decked in the yellow hard hats and gas masks worn by protesters in their clashes with police.

"In the United States it's a hate symbol, but now it is reborn in Hong Kong as a symbol of love and freedom," a 21 year-old animation student, who gave her name as Phoenix, told AFP.

"Even in a really tough situation, we still want to feel hope and be happy. If we can maintain our minds in a positive way, then maybe we can keep protesting and find a way to win," she added. -- Agence France-Presse

October 1, 2019

The European Union calls for "de-escalation and restraint" in Hong Kong after a police officer shot a demonstrator during a flare-up in the political protests roiling the city.

"In light of the continuing unrest and violence in Hong Kong, the European Union continues to stress that dialogue, de-escalation and restraint are the only way forward," EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic tells reporters.


September 29, 2019

More than 1,000 people rallied in central Sydney in support of Hong Kong protesters Sunday, kicking off a day of planned "anti-totalitarianism" demonstrations globally.

In one of the largest solidarity marches in the Australian city since Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement began in March, black-clad participants took to the streets chanting "Add oil," a protest slogan denoting encouragement.

Some protesters held signs that read "Save Hong Kong" and "Stop tyranny," while others carried yellow umbrellas or handed out paper cranes in scenes that played out in major cities across the country Sunday. Pro-China supporters stayed away, avoiding a repeat of the tense scenes that flared last month when opposing rallies held on the same day led to confrontations between the two sides. — AFP

September 22, 2019

Hong Kong is a "police state" where officers — once dubbed "Asia's finest" — are conducting abuses in the service of the city's pro-Beijing leadership, prominent voices in the global financial hub's weeks-long protest movement tell AFP.

The comments came as riot police and demonstrators in Hong Kong fought brief skirmishes Saturday near the Chinese border. 

They were the latest clashes during more than three months of demonstrations to protest stuttering freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory.

"Within these three-and-a-half months we have seen the police in Hong Kong getting totally out of control," activist and pop star Denise Ho says in an interview with AFP.


September 20, 2019

Amnesty International accuses Hong Kong police of using excessive force against pro-democracy protesters, in some cases amounting to torture, criticising a "disturbing pattern of reckless and unlawful tactics".

In a report based on interviews with nearly two dozen activists, most of whom were hospitalised after their arrests, the global rights watchdog says the city's police officers routinely went beyond the level of force allowed by local law and international standards.

"In an apparent thirst for retaliation, Hong Kong's security forces have engaged in a disturbing pattern of reckless and unlawful tactics against people during the protests," Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International, says. — AFP

September 15, 2019

Pro-democracy protesters rally outside Britain's consulate in Hong Kong, demanding London do more to protect its former colonial subjects and ramp up pressure on Beijing over sliding freedoms.

Hundreds of demonstrators sang "God Save the Queen" and "Rule Britannia" outside the consulate, waving the Union Jack as well as Hong Kong's colonial-era flags.

The once-stable international hub has been convulsed by weeks of huge, sometimes violent rallies calling for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability. The movement is the biggest challenge to China's rule since the city was handed back by Britain in 1997 and shows no sign of ending, with local leaders and Beijing taking a hard line.

Under a deal signed with Britain ahead of the city's 1997 handover to China, Hong Kong is allowed to keep its unique freedoms for 50 years. — AFP

September 14, 2019

A Hong Kong activist urges US President Donald Trump to include a "human rights clause" in any trade agreement with China, and seeks Washington's backing for the city's democracy movement.

Joshua Wong, 22, calls on American politicians to pass a bill expressing support for the pro-democracy campaign during a speaking engagement in New York, a few hours after arriving in the United States.

"It's significant to add a human rights clause in the trade negotiations and put Hong Kong protests under the agenda of the trade negotiations," Wong says. — AFP

September 13, 2019

At the back of her tiny shop, Hong Kong baker Naomi Suen pulls out a fresh tray of mooncakes — each one sporting popular slogans from recent pro-democracy protests.

The cakes are a contemporary political twist on a gift traditionally given during the annual mid-autumn festival at a time when Hong Kong is convulsing with unprecedented unrest.

Bakeries at this time of year are packed with boxes of the dense pastries, commonly filled with a heavy sweet concoction of lotus seed and egg yolks.

The tops often have intricate Chinese character designs detailing the brand or the filling inside.

But Suen's mooncakes have different kinds of messages printed on them such as "Hong Kong People", "No withdrawal, no dispersal" and "Be Water".

All are chants heard on Hong Kong's streets in the last three months, as huge crowds come out to protest eroding freedoms after two decades of rule by Beijing. 

The last phrase — "Be Water" — is a reference to local kung fu legend Bruce Lee's philosophy of being unpredictable, a style the leaderless protest has adopted with relish during its frequent street battles with the police. — Agence France-Presse

September 13, 2019

One of Hong Kong's most prestigious sporting tournaments on Friday became the latest victim of the huge protests convulsing the city as a growing roster of events and entertainment acts pull out of the financial hub.

Organizers of the WTA Hong Kong Open women's tennis tournament said they were postponing next month's competition because of the "present situation" after months of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests.

"After extensive discussions with our key stakeholders, we conclude that a smooth running of the tournament can be better assured at a later time," the Hong Kong Tennis Association says in a statement.

Hong Kong's protests were triggered by alarm over a controversial bill, since scrapped, to allow extraditions to mainland China.

Millions of people have taken part in demonstrations over the last three months which have morphed into calls for democracy and complaints against the erosion of freedoms under Beijing's rule. — Agence France-Presse

September 10, 2019

Hong Kong's secondary schools have become the latest ideological battleground for pro-democracy protesters with thousands of students taking part in human chain rallies since the new academic year kicked off.

These human chain demonstrations in which pupils form long lines and chant slogans, are the latest way the city's youth have chosen to voice support for pro-democracy protests that have plunged the financial hub into crisis. — AFP

September 8, 2019

Pro-democracy activists rally outside the United States consulate in Hong Kong as they try to ramp up international pressure on Beijing following three months of huge and sometimes violent protests.

Millions have taken to Hong Kong's streets over the last 14 weeks in the biggest challenge to China's rule since the city's handover from Britain in 1997. The protests were ignited by a now-scrapped plan to allow extraditions to the authoritarian mainland, seen by opponents as the latest move by Beijing to chip away at the international finance hub's unique freedoms.

But after Beijing and city leaders took a hard line the movement snowballed into a broader campaign calling for greater democracy, police accountability and an amnesty for those arrested. — AFP

September 7, 2019

Riot police fan out across Hong Kong in a bid to thwart plans by pro-democracy protesters to target the airport in the movement's first mass mobilisation since the city's leader made a surprise concession earlier this week.

Millions of pro-democracy supporters have taken to Hong Kong's streets for the past three months in the biggest challenge to China's rule since the city's handover from Britain in 1997. — AFP

September 6, 2019

According to a spokesperson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong "must be guaranteed" after meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

Hong Kong has been plunged into months of pro-democracy protests, and ahead of her three-day visit to China this week protestors in the semi-autonomous city appealed to the German chancellor to support them in her meetings with China's leadership.

In a tweet Friday, spokesman Steffen Seibert quoted Merkel as saying: "The rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong must be guaranteed. Solutions can only be found in dialogue; do everything possible to prevent violence". — AFP

September 5, 2019

Hong Kong's leader urges pro-democracy protesters to end their demonstrations after her surprise decision to bow to one of their key demands was condemned as too little, too late.

Carrie Lam, the city's pro-Beijing chief executive, surprised many when after three months of rallies she suddenly announced she was scrapping a hugely unpopular extradition law.

Millions of people have taken to Hong Kong's streets since June in the biggest challenge to China's rule of semi-autonomous Hong Kong since its handover from the British in 1997. — AFP

September 2, 2019

The Communist Party of the Philippines denounce violence by the Hong Kong police against protesters, saying this "manifests the fascist orientation of the Hongkong administration under the direction of the Chinese government."

It says in a statement that the violence used against protesters and bystanders underscore that the protests and rallies, initially against a bill to allow extradition of crime suspects to China on a case-to-case basis, are airing legitimate grivances.

"Indeed, there are parallelisms between the struggles of the Filipino people and Chinese people as they are both confronted with similar authoritarian rulers who make no qualms in using state power to advance their aims. They can draw strength from each others' struggles."

August 30, 2019

Property firms suffer hefty losses in Hong Kong as the arrest of leading pro-democracy figures wiped out an early rally in the Hang Seng Index, fuelled by fears of fresh violence in the city.

News of the arrests overshadowed a broad advance across other Asian markets that came after China said it would not retaliate against the latest US tariffs, which raised hopes for an easing of trade tensions between the economic giants.

Police on Friday held Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow a day before another planned mass rally on the fifth anniversary of Beijing's rejection of a call for universal suffrage in the city, which sparked the Umbrella Movement in 2014. — AFP

August 30, 2019

Cathay Pacific has warned staff they risk being sacked if they join a planned Hong Kong strike, as the airline intensifies its crackdown on employee support for the rolling pro-democracy protests.

Hong Kong's flagship carrier, which has 27,000 staff in the city, has been accused of bowing to political pressure from China, whose aviation regulator has banned airline staff who have supported the demonstrations from working on flights through its airspace. 

In an internal memo to staff, a Cathay director, Tom Owen, says participating in a strike planned for Monday and Tuesday could constitute a breach of contract. — AFP

August 30, 2019

Cops arrest prominent Hong Kong democracy activists in a dragnet that came as protesters planned to rally this weekend in defiance of a police ban.

Hong Kong has been locked in a three months of political crisis, with increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters that have prompted an escalating public relations campaign from Beijing.

Protesters planned yet another mass rally on Saturday -- the fifth anniversary of Beijing's rejection of a call for universal suffrage in the semi-autonomous city, a decision that sparked the 79-day Umbrella Movement in 2014. — AFP

August 29, 2019

China's military says fresh troops had arrived in Hong Kong as part of a routine rotation, as the financial hub prepares for fresh political rallies against Beijing's tightening grip on the city.

State media published a video of armoured personnel carriers and trucks driving across the Hong Kong border in the border. 

"The Hong Kong Garrison of the Chinese People's Liberation Army on Thursday morning completed the 22nd rotation since it began garrisoning Hong Kong in 1997," Xinhua news agency reports. — AFP

August 29, 2019

Hong Kong stocks extended losses in the morning session Thursday owing to concerns about the lack of developments in the China-US trade talks.

The Hang Seng Index shed 0.36 percent, or 91.22 points, to 25,524.26 by lunch. — Agence France-Presse

August 29, 2019

A fortnight ago Cathay Pacific said it "wouldn't dream" of muzzling the views of its 27,000 Hong Kong staff, but after the dismissal of several pro-democracy supporters among its workforce under Chinese pressure, employees say this is exactly what has happened.

Hong Kong, a financial center that was once a byword for stability and prosperity, has been plunged into an unprecedented crisis by anti-government protests, framed by fears over growing Chinese influence.

The chaos put airline Cathay in a bind over whether to allow its staff to take part in — or voice support for — the massive demonstrations, or risk losing its China-facing business.

In mid-August, the carrier's position seemed unequivocal and in line with the city's culture of free speech.

"We employ 27,000 different staff in Hong Kong... we have virtually every opinion on every issue amongst our staff," Chairman John Slosar told reporters. 

"We certainly wouldn't dream of telling them what they have to think about something."

But the company's tune soon changed as a move by China's aviation regulator to bar staff supporting protests from working on flights to the mainland or through Chinese airspace began to bite. — Agence France-Presse

August 28, 2019

Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong are worried that their employers might prevent them from taking their days off because of continuing protests there, a workers' group says.

Protests against a shelved bill allowing case-to-case extradition to China have been going on since June and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said earlier this month that employers there have imposed stricter curfew hours for their domestic workers.

"Most of the domestic workers have curfew during their day off. Since the riots usually occur in the evening, workers are also advised to stay at home by the end of their working hours," Bello said in an August 15 report by The STAR

"The Filipino Migrant Workers Union respects the rights of HongKongers to defend their autonomy under the One Country Two Systems. However, the group is apprehensive that some employers are taking advantage of the situation by preventing their migrant domestic worker [from taking] their weekly rest day," FMWU Hong Kong said in an emailed statement.

Employers are contractually and legally required to grant their household workers one rest day a week.

Bello previously said there is no penalty for those who will violate the curfew, but Filipino workers are still advised to follow these for their own protection.

"It is the worker who is advised not to go out and the employers can't do anything if they will not comply. But if something happens to them they can't blame the employer and our labor officers," Bello said then.

August 24, 2019

Riot police and protesters clash Saturday afternoon as a stand-off outside a police station descended into violence.

Officers charge with batons out, detaining at least one protester. The demonstrators retaliate with a barrage of bottles and bamboo poles, as tear gas and pepper spray was fired to disperse them. — AFP

August 19, 2019

US President Donald Trump on Sunday warned China that carrying out a Tiananmen Square-style crackdown on Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters would harm trade talks between the two countries.

"I think it'd be very hard to deal if they do violence, I mean, if it's another Tiananmen Square," Trump told reporters in New Jersey. "I think it's a very hard thing to do if there's violence."

Hong Kong has been roiled by protests for more than two months and on Sunday hundreds of thousands of democracy activists had marched peacefully in the city despite rising unrest and stark warnings from Beijing.

There have been increasingly stark warnings from Beijing over the protests, and state media has run images of military personnel and armoured personnel carriers across the border in Shenzhen. — Agence France-Presse

August 18, 2019

Hong Kong democracy activists gather for a major rally to show the city's leaders their protest movement still attracts wide public support despite mounting violence and increasingly stark warnings from Beijing.

Ten weeks of demonstrations have plunged the financial hub into crisis with images of masked black-clad protesters engulfed by tear gas during street battles with riot police stunning a city once renowned for its stability. 

Communist-ruled mainland China has taken an increasingly hardline tone towards the protesters, decrying the "terrorist-like" actions of a violent hardcore minority among the demonstrators.

Despite the near-nightly clashes with police, the movement has won few concessions from Beijing or the city's unelected leadership. — AFP

August 17, 2019

Hong Kong democracy activists kick off a weekend of fresh protests in a major test for the movement following criticism over an airport protest earlier this week -- and as concerns mount over Beijing's next move.

Ten weeks of demonstrations have plunged the international finance hub into crisis, with the communist-ruled mainland taking an increasingly hardline tone, including labelling the more violent protester actions "terrorist-like".

Activists are billing two planned rallies on Saturday and Sunday as a way to show Beijing and the city's unelected leaders that their movement still enjoys broad public support, despite increasingly violent tactics deployed by a minority of hardcore protesters that have cast a shadow. — AFP

August 17, 2019

Hundreds of pro-China demonstrators march through Sydney Saturday in response to a growing number of rallies in support of the Hong Kong democracy protests as tensions between the two groups increasingly flare in Australia.

They march through the city chanting "One China", waving the Chinese flag and holding placards saying "Stop riots end violence in Hong Kong".

"There has been a lot of violence and violent protests in Hong Kong," Sydney-based lawyer and rally organiser who asked only to be called Zhao says. "And Hong Kong people have suffered from that and we want to voice our call for peace and order in Hong Kong." — AFP

August 16, 2019

Hong Kong's police are confident they have the resources to continue battling pro-democracy protesters, even if violence escalates further, pouring cold water on concerns that the authoritarian mainland might need to intervene.

Three senior commanders say they were unaware of any plans by China to bolster their own ranks with mainland troops or police officers, even if the political chaos worsens. 

And they admit that any move to do so would place the city's police force in uncharted waters. — AFP

August 16, 2019

Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement faces a major test this weekend as it tries to muster another huge crowd following criticism over a recent violent airport protest and as concerns mount over Beijing's next move.

Ten weeks of protests have plunged the international finance hub into crisis with the communist mainland taking an increasingly hardline tone, including labelling the more violent protester actions "terrorist-like".

Chinese state media have put out images of military personnel and armoured personnel carriers across the border in Shenzhen, while the United States has warned Beijing against sending in troops, a move many analysts say would be a reputational and economic disaster for China. — AFP

August 15, 2019

Donald Trump urges China to "humanely" resolve the violent stand-off with pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, as concerns grow that Beijing is considering direct intervention in the crisis.

In a series of tweets, the US president linked a possible trade deal with Beijing to a peaceful resolution to the political unrest that has roiled the semi-autonomous Chinese city for 10 weeks.

Washington has become increasingly alarmed by the build-up of Chinese security forces on the border with Hong Kong as the protests show no signs of abating and Beijing intensifies its drumbeat of intimidation against a movement pushing democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms. — AFP

August 15, 2019

Donald Trump urges China to "humanely" resolve the violent stand-off with pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, as concerns grow that Beijing is considering direct intervention in the crisis.

In a series of tweets, the US president linked a possible trade deal with Beijing to a peaceful resolution to the political unrest that has roiled the semi-autonomous Chinese city for 10 weeks.

Washington has become increasingly alarmed by the build-up of Chinese security forces on the border with Hong Kong as the protests show no signs of abating and Beijing intensifies its drumbeat of intimidation against a movement pushing democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms. — AFP

August 14, 2019

Flights were departing Hong Kong airport largely on schedule on Wednesday morning, a day after pro-democracy protesters caused chaos with a disruptive sit-in that paralysed the busy transport hub.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled on Tuesday after demonstrators blockaded two terminals, the second consecutive day the airport has been targeted in the latest escalation of a 10-week political crisis that has gripped the international finance hub.

Protesters physically blocked travellers from accessing flights throughout the afternoon, before battling with riot police outside the terminal later that evening and turning on two people they accused of being spies or undercover police.

But by the early hours of Wednesday morning the vast majority of protesters had left the building and flights began taking off on a more regular basis. — Agence France-Presse

August 13, 2019

Flights resume Tuesday at Hong Kong airport a day after a massive pro-democracy rally there forced the shutdown of the busy international transport hub.

Early Tuesday, passengers with luggage were being checked in at the departures hall and information boards showed several flights were already boarding or about to depart.

The abrupt shutdown of one of the world's busiest hubs came after thousands of black-clad demonstrators flooded the airport for a peaceful rally.

It was a dramatic escalation of a 10-week crisis that has been the biggest challenge to Chinese rule of Hong Kong since the 1997 British handover.

The protests have infuriated Beijing, which described some of the violent demonstrations as "terrorism".

Washington overnight urged all sides to refrain from violence, as the crisis sparked by a bill to allow extradition to mainland China continues with no apparent end in sight. — Agence France-Presse

August 12, 2019

More than 5,000 protesters gathered at Hong Kong airport on Monday, police say, as authorities cancelled all the day's remaining flights in and out of the busy international transport hub.

"The information I got before we came in was that in the airport passenger terminal building there are over 5,000 protesters," says Kong Wing-cheung, senior superintendent of the police public relations branch, at a press conference.

Kong said airport authorities had allowed demonstrators to gather in the arrivals halls — although the protest was not granted a permit from police — but accused the activists of blocking departures.

"Some of the protesters had gone into the departures hall, causing some passengers to be unable to enter the restricted area to exercise their personal freedom, which is to board their flight," he says. — Agence France-Presse

August 12, 2019

China on Monday slams violent protesters in Hong Kong who had thrown petrol bombs at police officers and linked them to "terrorism", as Beijing ramps up its rhetoric against pro-democracy protests in the financial hub.

"Hong Kong's radical demonstrators have repeatedly used extremely dangerous tools to attack police officers, which already constitutes a serious violent crime, and also shows the first signs of terrorism emerging," said Yang Guang, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.

"This wantonly tramples on Hong Kong's rule of law and social order,” he says at a press briefing in Beijing. 

Meanwhile, Hong Kong airport authorities say Monday that they are cancelling departing and arriving flights at the major travel hub after thousands of protesters entered the arrivals halls to stage a demonstration.

"Other than the departure flights that have completed the check-in process and the arrival flights that are already heading to Hong Kong, all other flights have been cancelled for the rest of today," the airport authority says. — Agence France-Presse

August 12, 2019

While China might be exploiting fears of a bloody "Tiananmen" crackdown on Hong Kong's protest movement, analysts say the potentially catastrophic economic and political consequences will deter Beijing from any overt boots-on-the ground intervention.

As the clashes between pro-democracy demonstrators and police in the former British colony have grown increasingly violent, Beijing's condemnation has become more ominous, with warnings that those who play with fire will "perish by it".

At the same time, the military garrison maintained by People's Liberation Army in Hong Kong released a video showing an anti-riot drill in which soldiers with assault rifles, armoured personnel carriers and water cannons disperse a crowd of protesters. — Agence France-Presse

August 11, 2019

Cathay Pacific says it will comply with new rules from China banning staff who support Hong Kong's protesters from working on flights to the mainland or through its airspace.

The Hong Kong carrier also confirms it had suspended a pilot charged with rioting and fired two ground staff for misconduct apparently related to the protest movement that has engulfed the city.

China's aviation regulator had ordered the airline to hand over identifying information for staff on mainland-bound flights starting Sunday.

It warned that staff deemed to support Hong Kong's "illegal protests" were banned from flights landing in mainland China or traveling through its airspace.

August 10, 2019

Several hundred families take to the streets in Hong Kong to show support for pro-democracy protests that are now in their third month.

The colourful and calm atmosphere at the rally was a far cry from the increasingly violent confrontations that have marked recent demonstrations by activists calling for greater freedoms in the city.

A leaflet featuring an alternative alphabet was circulated, offering "demonstration" for the letter D, "angry" for A and "protest" for P. — AFP

August 10, 2019

The United States has demanded that Beijing-backed news outlets stop sharing "dangerous" reports after a newspaper revealed personal information about an American diplomat in Hong Kong who met with pro-democracy activists.

"Official Chinese media reports on our diplomat in Hong Kong have gone from irresponsible to dangerous. This must stop," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus has posted on Twitter.

The Hong Kong-based, pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao reported that the political unit chief of the US Consulate General in Hong Kong, Julie Eadeh, had met with members of the political party Demosisto -- including prominent democracy activist Joshua Wong.

It shared details on Eadeh's career as well as her family members' names.

Beijing has increasingly pitched the anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong as funded by the West, but has provided little evidence beyond supportive statements from some Western politicians. — AFP

August 9, 2019

Hundreds of pro-democracy activists, some wearing face masks and helmets, stage a sit-in at Hong Kong's airport hoping to win support from international visitors for their movement.

"No rioters, only tyranny," the demonstrators chant as they began a three-day action -- the latest in a string of protests that have rocked the international financial hub for more than two months.

Activists, some dressed in the movement's signature black, sit on the floor in the airport's arrivals hall and hold up signs in Chinese and English condemning police violence. — AFP

August 8, 2019

China demands that US diplomats based in Hong Kong "stop interfering" in the city's affairs, after reports that they met with pro-democracy activists.

The foreign ministry says it had expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with US authorities, citing local media reports that a US official from Hong Kong's US consulate general had met with a local "independence group."

In a statement Thursday, the ministry urges the diplomatic office to "immediately make a clean break with various anti-China rioters" and "stop interfering in Hong Kong's affairs immediately." — AFP

August 7, 2019

Thousands of Chinese riot police staged a drill just across the border from Hong Kong, in what appeared to be a thinly veiled warning from Beijing about its ability to end two months of protests in the global financial hub.

The exercise, which took place Tuesday in Shenzhen — a city in southern China that borders the semi-autonomous city — instantly attracted online attention given the close resemblance between the drill and the ongoing clashes in adjacent Hong Kong.

The footage showed squads of police facing down "protesters" dressed in construction hats and facemasks — reminiscent of demonstrators in Hong Kong. As the crowd attacked police with long, wooden poles, officers pushed back with riot shields and deployed tear gas. — AFP

August 5, 2019

Peak-hour morning train travel and international flights in Hong Kong were thrown into chaos on Monday as pro-democracy protesters launched an attempted city-wide strike to ramp up pressure on the financial hub's embattled leaders. 

Activists descended on key subway stations during the morning rush hour, deliberately keeping open doors to stop trains departing, causing long queues and triggering occasional scuffles between angry commuters and protesters.

More than 100 flights at the city's airport -- one of the world's busiest -- were also listed as cancelled on Monday morning after aviation authorities warned passengers about potential disruptions. -- Agence France-Presse

August 4, 2019

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong are set to defy Chinese authorities with another two major rallies later, a day after police fired tear gas to disperse them in one of the city's most renowned tourist districts.

Tsim Sha Tsui, a harbourside district known for its luxury malls and hotels, was filled with acrid plumes of tear gas on Saturday night as small groups of hardcore protesters battled police in streets usually brimming with tourists and shoppers.

Semi-autonomous Hong Kong has seen two months of protests and clashes triggered by opposition to a planned extradition law that quickly evolved into a wider movement for democratic reforms.

August 3, 2019

Anti-government protesters in Hong Kong plan to hold a mass rally later Saturday as they face down increasingly stern warnings from China over weeks-long unrest that has plunged the city into crisis.

The semi-autonomous southern Chinese financial hub has seen two months of protests and clashes triggered by opposition to a planned extradition law that quickly evolved into a wider movement for democratic reforms.

Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing this week signalled a hardening stance, including with the arrests of dozens of protesters, and the Chinese military saying it was ready to quell the "intolerable" unrest if requested. — AFP

August 2, 2019

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong gear up for more rallies in defiance of a series of warnings from China and after a prominent independence campaigner was arrested.

The semi-autonomous southern Chinese city has seen two months of unrest that was triggered by opposition to a planned extradition law but quickly evolved into a wider movement for democratic reforms.

Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing this week signalled a hardening stance, including with the arrests of dozens of protesters, and the Chinese military described the unrest as "intolerable". — AFP

August 1, 2019

China's military has released a slick propaganda video showing a drill of armed troops quelling a protest in Hong Kong, as its commander for the city voiced determination to maintain law and order following two months of pro-democracy rallies.

The double-barrel signals on Wednesday were the strongest public interventions from China's armed forces into the crisis, which has seen masses of people take to the global financial hub's streets to demand more freedoms.

The video, posted online by the People's Liberation Army's (PLA's) garrison in Hong Kong, shows tanks, helicopters, rocket launchers and heavily armed troops in action across various locations of the semi-autonomous Chinese city. — AFP

July 31, 2019

Growing ranks of Hong Kong's typically conservative and publicity-shy bureaucrats have begun an unprecedented online dissent campaign against the city's pro-Beijing leaders over their response to weeks of violent pro-democracy protests.

Multiple open letters have been signed by hundreds of anonymous civil servants in the past week condemning the administration of city leader Carrie Lam and the police.

A group of civil servants have also announced plans to hold a rally on Friday night -- something unheard of from a demographic that usually eschews politics. — AFP

July 29, 2019

After weeks of increasingly violent protests, China's top policy body on Hong Kong affairs is set to hold an extremely rare press briefing Monday on the crisis engulfing the financial hub, where dozens of protesters were arrested in weekend clashes with police.

What began as a mass display of opposition to an extradition bill two months ago has morphed into a wider pro-democracy movement that has thrown down the most significant challenge to Beijing's authority since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

While China has issued increasingly shrill condemnations of the protests in the last two weeks, it has largely left the city's pro-Beijing administration to deal with the situation. 

So Monday’s highly unusual press briefing in Beijing by the cabinet-level Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office will be closely watched for any hint of more direct intervention. — Agence France-Presse

July 29, 2019

Riot police in Hong Kong launched volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets on Sunday during hours of running battles with pro-democracy protesters close to Beijing's office in the city, marking the second consecutive day officers have fired on demonstrators.

As the unauthorized protest occurred, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office -- China's top policy unit for the two cities -- said in an unusual move that it would hold a press conference Monday afternoon in Beijing.

Hong Kong, a global financial hub, is reeling from weeks of anti-government protests that show no sign of abating.

Sunday's melees took place in a well-heeled residential district close to the Liaison Office, which represents Beijing in the semi-autonomous territory.

Police and protesters had been engaged in a standoff for hours after tens of thousands of demonstrators held a series of unsanctioned marches through the city. -- Agence France-Presse

July 28, 2019

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters defy a police ban and began marching through Hong Kong, a day after riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas in the latest violent confrontation to plunge the financial hub deeper into crisis.

Huge crowds gather in the heart of the city's commercial district on Sunday afternoon, after police gave permission for a static protest in a park but banned a proposed march through the city.

Yet protesters soon spilled into the streets outside the park and began marching in spite of the ban, ratcheting up the likelihood of renewed clashes.

July 27, 2019

Hong Kong police fire tear gas at protesters holding a banned rally against suspected triad gangs who beat up pro-democracy demonstrators near the Chinese border last weekend, tipping the finance hub further into chaos.

Riot police fire dozens of rounds of tear gas in Yuen Long, a town close to the border, after tense standoffs with protesters, some of whom were throwing projectiles and had surrounded a police van.

Public anger has been raging since last Sunday when a gang of men in white T-shirts, armed with poles and batons, set upon anti-government protesters and bystanders in Yuen Long station. — AFP

July 27, 2019

Crowds of Hong Kong protesters defy a police ban and begin gathering in a town close to the Chinese border to rally against suspected triad gangs who beat up pro-democracy demonstrators there last weekend.

Public anger has been raging since last Sunday when a gang of men in white t-shirts, armed with poles and batons, set upon anti-government protesters and bystanders in Yuen Long station, leaving at least 45 people needing hospital treatment.

The brazen assault was the latest escalation in seven weeks of unprecedented political violence that shows little sign of abating as the city's pro-Beijing leaders refuse to budge. — AFP

July 26, 2019

Hundreds of Hong Kong protesters, including flight attendants, hold a rally in the airport's arrival hall in a bid to "educate" visitors about the unprecedented demonstrations currently roiling the international finance hub.

The cavernous hall is usually filled with excited friends and relatives waiting to greet loved ones as they make their way out of one of the world's busiest airports.

But on Friday visitors were greeted with protesters chanting anti-government slogans, holding banners and handing out flyers.

The rally is the latest bid to keep pressure on Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leaders after seven weeks of largely peaceful mass demonstrations followed by violent clashes, an unprecedented challenge to Beijing's authority since the city's 1997 handover. — AFP

July 21, 2019

Another huge anti-government march kicks off in Hong Kong with seemingly no end in sight to the turmoil engulfing the finance hub, sparked by years of rising anger over Beijing's rule.

The city has been plunged into its worst crisis in recent history by weeks of marches and sporadic violent confrontations between police and pockets of hardcore protesters.

The initial protests were lit by a now-suspended bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

July 15, 2019

Anti-government protesters who fought police inside a Hong Kong shopping mall were "rioters," the finance hub's pro-Beijing leader says, as she threw her support behind the city's beleaguered police force following another weekend of clashes.

"They were committed to the duties, and also very professional and restrained. But they were wantonly attacked by rioters -- I think we can really describe them as rioters," City leader Carries Lam tells reporters.

Hong Kong's ongoing political crisis deepened further on Sunday as riot police and protesters fought running battles inside a shopping complex packed with luxury stores.

Police used pepper spray and batons against small groups of protesters, who responded by hurling umbrellas, bottles and other projectiles, in a night of fresh violence in the international hub.

Both officers and protesters were injured in the chaotic melee which left bloodstains on the floor and at least 28 people needing hospital treatment.

July 13, 2019

Clashes break out between police and Hong Kong demonstrators as the latest anti-government protests took aim at traders coming across the border from mainland China.

Police used pepper spray and batons against masked protesters in Sheung Shui, a town near the border with China, after thousands marched to complain about "parallel traders".

Sheung Shui boasts dozens of pharmacies and cosmetic stores that are hugely popular with mainland merchants who snap up goods in Hong Kong -- where there is no sales tax -- and resell them across the border. — AFP

July 9, 2019

A key Hong Kong protest group behind mass rallies against a widely loathed China extradition bill vowed on Tuesday to hold fresh protests as they rejected a promise from the city's leader that the bill was "dead".

"If our five demands are still not heard by Carrie Lam and her government, the Civil Human Rights Forum will continue to hold protests and assemblies," spokeswoman Bonnie Leung told reporters, adding details of the new protests would be released in due course. ?— Agence France-Presse

July 9, 2019

Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam announced Tuesday that a widely loathed proposal to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland "is dead"—but she again stopped short of protester demands to immediately withdraw the bill.

"There are still lingering doubts about the government's sincerity or worries (about) whether the government will restart the process with the Legislative Council. So I reiterate here, there is no such plan. The bill is dead," she said. 

The announcement comes after tens of thousands rallied Sunday against the bill in the harbor-front district of Tsim Sha Tsui, an area popular with Chinese tourists, ending their march at a high-speed train terminus that connects to the mainland. 

Police wielding batons and shields charged protesters late Sunday to disperse a few hundreds demonstrators who had refused to leave after the march.

AFP reporters saw multiple demonstrators detained by police after the fracas, their wrists bound with plastic handcuffs.

By early Monday only pockets of demontrators remained with police occupying key intersections around the protest area.

The scene of the clashes—Mongkok—is a densely-packed working class district, which has previously hosted running battles between police and anti-government protesters in 2014 and 2016. — Agence France-Presse



July 7, 2019

Anti-government protesters in Hong Kong plan to rally later outside a controversial station where high-speed trains depart for the Chinese mainland as they try to keep up pressure on the city's pro-Beijing leaders.

The rally is the first major protest planned since last Monday's unprecedented storming of parliament by largely young, masked protesters -- a move which plunged the international financial hub further into crisis.

Hong Kong has been rocked by a month of huge peaceful protests as well as a series of separate violent confrontations with police, sparked by a law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

The bill has since been postponed in response to the intense backlash but that has done little to quell public anger, which has evolved into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous city. — AFP

July 2, 2019

Hong Kong Tuesday grappled with the aftermath of a night of unprecedented anti-government protests which saw parliament ransacked, as Beijing called for a criminal probe into the unparalleled challenge to its authority.

The semi-autonomous financial hub has been thrown into crisis by weeks of demonstrations over a bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland, with the issue becoming a lightning rod for resentment towards Beijing.

On Monday — the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover to China — anger spilt over as groups of mostly young, hardline protesters, breached the legislative council.

They hung the city's colonial-era flag in the debating chamber, scrawled messages such as "Hong Kong is not China" on walls, and defaced the city's seal with spray-paint.

Police charged into the building shortly after midnight to retake control. — Agence France-Presse

July 2, 2019

China's central government condemns the ransacking of Hong Kong's legislature and says it backs the city authorities to investigate the "criminal responsibility of violent offenders."

"These serious illegal actions trample on the rule of law in Hong Kong, undermine Hong Kong's social order and harm the fundamental interests of Hong Kong," the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council says in a statement by an unnamed spokesperson. — AFP

July 2, 2019

US President Donald Trump says protesters who stormed Hong Kong's parliament want democracy for the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

"Well, they're looking for democracy and I think most people want democracy. Unfortunately, some governments don't want democracy," Trump tells reporters at the White House.

"That's what it's all about. It's all about democracy. There's nothing better."

Earlier, Trump says the unrest in Hong Kong was "very sad."

July 1, 2019

Anti-government protesters stormed Hong Kong's parliament building late Monday after successfully smashing their way through reinforced glass windows and prising open metal shutters that were blocking their way.

Footage broadcast live on i-Cable News showed dozens of masked protesters, many carrying makeshift shields, swarming into the entrance of the building after hours of forcing their way in.

Riot police, who had earlier used pepper spray to try and beat the protesters back, appeared to have retreated deeper inside the complex. — Agence France-Presse

July 1, 2019

Anti-government protesters laid siege to Hong Kong's parliament on Monday as the territory marked its China handover anniversary, smashing windows, battling police armed with pepper spray and plunging the city further into crisis.

The angry scenes ramped up tensions in the financial hub which has been rocked by three weeks of historic demonstrations against a hugely unpopular bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

Tens of thousands of democracy activists staged another large, peaceful march through the city on Monday afternoon, calling for the city's pro-Beijing leader to step down and reverse what they see as years of sliding freedoms.

But that rally was overshadowed by small groups of mainly young, masked protesters who seized roads and tried to break into the legislature, sparking renewed clashes with police after two weeks of relative calm.

Under blazing summer skies the young demonstrators made multiple attempts to smash into the building, using a metal cart as a battering ram and wielding steel poles to prize open gaps in the reinforced windows. 

Riot police inside the building wore gas masks as they squirted pepper spray at protesters, who unfurled umbrellas to shield themselves. — Agence France-Presse

July 1, 2019

Anti-government protesters trying to ram their way into Hong Kong's parliament battled police armed with pepper spray Monday as the territory marked the anniversary of its handover to China.

The angry scenes ramped up tensions in the international financial hub, which has been shaken by historic demonstrations in the past three weeks -- driven by demands for the withdrawal of a bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

Democracy activists kicked off another large march through the city on Monday afternoon. 

But that rally was overshadowed by small groups of mainly young, masked protesters who had seized three key thoroughfares in the morning, sparking renewed clashes with police after two weeks of relative calm. 

They smashed windows at the city's legislature and tried to force their way into the building by ramming a metal cart through reinforced glass doors. 

Riot police inside the building wore gas masks as they squirted pepper spray at protesters, who unfurled umbrellas to shield themselves. — Agence France-Presse

July 1, 2019

Hong Kong police use pepper spray and batons early Monday against anti-government protesters who had taken over a key road as the city marks the anniversary of its handover to China.

Riot police swoop on protesters who had blockaded a street in the Wanchai district, an AFP reporter at the scene says, with at least one female protester seen bleeding from a head wound after the clashes. — AFP

July 1, 2019

Anti-government protesters in Hong Kong take over key roads early Monday morning of a mass planned pro-democracy rally on the anniversary of the city's handover to China.

AFP reporters on the scene saw at least three major thoroughfares seized by young, masked demonstrators who used metal and plastic barriers to blockade the streets. 

Rows of riot police with helmets and shields are facing protesters at Fenwick Pier Street but are not moving on protesters as dawn rose over the financial hub. — AFP

June 30, 2019

Once dubbed "Asia's Finest", Hong Kong's police are fighting allegations of using excessive violence against protesters, their headquarters besieged twice in the last week as calls for an independent inquiry into their tactics swell.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Wu Chi-wai was aghast as thick clouds of tear gas drifted through Hong Kong's streets and rubber bullets slammed into ranks of protesters.

The international finance hub witnessed the worst political violence in a generation as police fought largely young demonstrators opposed to a now postponed plan to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

The tear gas was initially deployed against small but hardcore groups of protesters — some throwing projectiles and using metal barriers as battering rams — who were trying to occupy the city's parliament on June 12.

But the police response morphed into a sweeping clearance operation as officers turned their weapons on larger, mostly peaceful crowds of demonstrators who had occupied nearby roads.

Wu found himself in between police and demonstrator lines as a tear gas canister exploded behind him.

In scenes caught on video that went viral, Wu calmly walked towards the police, his hands raised, asking to speak to the commanding officer. 

"I believe I posed no threat to the police and I wanted to be a mediator," he recalled to AFP. "I hoped the police would allow the protesters to leave safely and peacefully."

But his pleas fell on deaf ears. Police fired a round of tear gas close to his feet and he was forced to retreat. — Agence France-Presse

June 26, 2019

Hong Kong protesters march to major consulates as they called on G20 nations to confront fellow member China at an upcoming summit in Japan over sliding freedoms in the financial hub.

The semi-autonomous city has been shaken by huge demonstrations this month with protesters demanding the withdrawal of a bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

The massive rallies are the latest manifestation of growing fears that China is stamping down on the city's unique freedoms and culture.

China has said it will not allow discussion of the protests in Hong Kong at the G20 summit in Osaka later this week -- although US President Donald Trump has said he plans to raise the issue during a planned meeting with President Xi Jinping. — AFP

June 21, 2019

Thousands of black-clad protesters block a highway outside Hong Kong's parliament, demanding the resignation of the city's pro-Beijing leader over a controversial extradition proposal that has sparked the territory's biggest political crisis in decades.

The protest comes after the government refused to meet the demands of demonstrators who have marched in their millions to oppose a bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland. — AFP

June 20, 2019

Hong Kong opposition groups call for another major demonstration on Thursday after the pro-Beijing government did not respond to demands of protesters who have shaken the city with massive rallies.

Millions have marched this month to oppose a proposed law that would have allowed extraditions to the Chinese mainland, but the huge protest movement has morphed into a larger rebuke of Hong Kong's administration.

Under-fire chief executive Carrie Lam has apologised and suspended the controversial bill, but that has failed to quell the opposition, with protesters demanding she step down and completely withdraw the legislation.

A number of protest groups, including student unions, called for supporters to mobilise on Friday, asking people to gather at the city's main government complex to "hold picnics" outside the legislature starting 7:00 am on Friday (2300 GMT Thursday).

They also recommended a go-slow protest on roads and public transport, and urged people to gather in other parts of the city to show their support.

"Blossom everywhere," read a statement circulated in a chat group on the messaging app Telegram by eight informal protest groups. —Agence France-Presse

June 20, 2019

Hong Kong student groups are preparing to mobilize support for another major demonstration, a union leader says, as a Thursday, June 20, deadline approached for the pro-Beijing government to respond to demands of protesters who have shaken the city with massive rallies.

Millions have marched this month to oppose a proposed law that would have allowed extraditions to the Chinese mainland, but the huge protest movement has morphed into a larger rebuke of Hong Kong's administration. — AFP

June 19, 2019

Members of Hong Kong's legislature meet Wednesday for the first time since the largest anti-government protest in the city's history, with many opposition lawmakers slamming the pro-Beijing administration's handling of the crisis.

Hong Kong has been shaken by a series of massive demonstrations against a proposed law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, and the city's police force has been criticized for using excessive force to disperse protesters.

Videos of police beating unarmed protesters went viral and sparked public anger, and the tactics were widely condemned. Police said force was necessary to fend off protesters throwing bricks and metal bars. -- Agence France-Presse

June 17, 2019

Protesters end highway occupation outside Hong Kong's parliament.

June 17, 2019

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong calls on the city's pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam to resign after he walked free from prison as historic anti-government protests rocked the city.

"She is no longer qualified to be Hong Kong's leader," Wong tells reporters.

"She must take the blame and resign, be held accountable and step down."

June 17, 2019

Joshua Wong, the student leader who became the face of Hong Kong's "Umbrella Movement" democracy protests in 2014, was released from prison on Monday, an AFP reporter at the scene says.

Wong, clutching a small box of belongings and dressed in a white shirt, walked free from Lai Chi Kok Correctional Institute and was swiftly mobbed by media and supporters. 

June 17, 2019

Organizers say "almost two million" people turned out for Sunday's mammoth protest in Hong Kong opposed to a deeply unpopular extradition law, an estimate that is nearly double last weekend's already record-breaking crowds. 

"Today's march we had almost 2 million people," Jimmy Sham, from the Civil Human Rights Front, tells reporters. 

Millions march in Hong Kong in a powerful rebuke of an extradition law feared to expose them to China's capricious justice system.

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