What Now Hong Kong?

AFTER weeks of protests, some peaceful, others less so, Hong Kong is still in an unsettled state.

Businesses are concerned about lost revenue as a result of demonstrators turning violent, while locals avoid the trouble spots.

Tourism numbers to Hong Kong are affected by the regular disruptions over recent weekends.

How will these events affect businesses that have operations in Hong Kong? And for businesses looking to use Hong Kong as a doorway to China, would it be time to review this approach?

With the runway shortening as the 50-year handover period draws nearer to 2047, how will the one country, two systems political experiment play out?

These are some of the issues to be discussed at STORM-ASIA’s Keep It Going discussion, What Now Hong Kong?


Panellists for the discussion on the implications of the Hong Kong situation on regional businesses include:

Richard Eu Chairman of Eu Yan Sang, helped to reshape the family’s traditional Chinese medicine business and has outlets in the region, including 63 in Hong Kong;

Prof Ben Choi of the Nanyang Business School, NTU has recently written a paper on the Hong Kong situation and wants to share his findings;

Patrick Chan is an independent consultant who has lived and worked in Hong Kong and Singapore;

Michelle Wong is an Accredited Mediator at the Singapore Mediation Centre and Certified Mediator at the Singapore International Mediation Institute. She has experience mediating commercial, general and community issues, among others. In 2017, she published the article Learning from the Hong Kong Experience to Propose a Mediation and an Apology Law for Singapore.

The session will be co-moderated by retired lawyer Ravi Samuel and publisher of STORM-ASIA Kannan Chandran.


Ravi Samuel has pulled together the events that have transpired since the first demonstration took place. This will be a useful reference for the discussion on 17 Sep at The Exciseman Whisky Bar, #02-27 Esplanade Mall, from 5:30-8:30pm.

Week 1:

9 – 15.6.19

9.6.19 Hong Kongers march against extradition bill. Carrie Lam (CL) wants to proceed with the bill. Mainstream media (MSM) say there were about 1 million protesters and the protests were largely peaceful.


12.6.19 Another large demonstration. It turns violent. Not clear how widespread the violence was or who started it.


14.6.19 ‘Mothers’ come out in support of protest.


MSM says the mothers were in the thousands.
15.6.19 CL announces suspension of the bill.


Week 2:

16 – 22.6.19

16.6.19 Hong Kongers not happy with suspension and want total withdrawal of bill. Further protests.


MSM reports about 2 million protesters.
21 – 22.6.19 Protesters occupy Wan Chai police HQ. The protest is ostensibly about police violence on 12.6.19. The demands are:

·       Retraction of characterisation of protest as ‘riots’

·       Release of arrested protesters


Week 3:

23 – 29.6.19

24.6.19 Protesters occupy Revenue Tower. Tax office occupied, halting government operations.

Protesters launch crowdfunding campaign. This is to place advertisements in major newspapers to seek support from the G-20 summit later that week.


First obvious attempt by protesters to garner foreign support by politicising the protests.
26.6.19 Protesters deliver petitions to foreign consulates.

Protesters hold G-20 rally and hold another rally at Wan Chai police HQ.


Week 4: 30.6.19 – 6.7.19
1.7.19 Pro-democracy marches with a separate lot of protesters occupying the legislative assembly building.


Anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China. Pro-democracy marches are usual.
5.7.19 Another march by ‘mothers’.


Week 5:

7 – 13.7.19

7.7.19 Protesters march to West Kowloon train station. MSM say there were 230,000 protesters. First obvious attempt to take protests to China and bring mainland Chinese into issue. This is the train station that connects mainland China to Hong Kong.


9.7.19 CL announces the bill ‘dead’. Technically, the bill remains suspended and is not formally withdrawn.


Week 6:

14 – 20.7.19

14.7.19 Peaceful protests at the Sha Tin mall turn violent. Altercations between protesters and police. Dozens of injuries reported. It is not clear from reports why the protests turned violent and who started it (protesters or police).


17.7.19 Older Hong Kongers take to the street in the Hong Kong Central District support of their younger counterparts’ protests.


Not clear if this was spontaneous or arranged.
Week 7:

21 – 27.7.19

21.7.19 Black clad protesters protest at the China Liaison Office. When leaving, physically attacked by others clad in white at the Yuen Long train station. MSM speculate that those clad in white are pro-China and sent to attack the protesters. The police attempts to quell the violence are reported as being insufficient.


26.7.19 Protesters occupy the airport. MSM report 15,000 protesters. First apparent attempt to disrupt international travel.


27.7.19 Protesters take to the street to protest the white clad protesters. There is a standoff between the protesters and the police.


The numbers involved are not clear.
Week 8: 28.7.18 – 3.8.19
28.7.19 Demonstrations against police violence take place in multiple areas of Hong Kong Island—Causeway Bay, Central, Sai Wan, Sheung Wan, and Wan Chai. Protesters block roads and start fires. Police deploy tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray.


It is in dispute whether police violence was proportional to protester violence.
1.8.19 Finance sector worker protest at Central.


MSM report about 1,000 protesters.
2.8.19 Civil servants hold a protest rally as do medical professionals. Civil servants should be neutral so their protests may be significant. The MSM reports 40,000 civil servants and 10,000 medical professionals.


Week 9:

4 – 10.8.19

5.8.19 There is a general strike which badly affects the city. Hundreds of flights are cancelled and the subway travel is badly affected. Protesters also occupy many police stations.  The police fire tear gas and make arrests.


MSM report that police fired 800 rounds of tear gas and made 148 arrests. Level of violence in the confrontation is in dispute.
7.8.19 Thousands of lawyers hold a silent march. Later, at the space museum, demonstrators flash laser beams over the domed structure. The exact number of lawyers is not known. The lawyers’ march was the second in two months. MSM report that the students’ use of laser pointers was to protest a university student’s arrest for purchasing laser pointers. The police deemed them ‘offensive weapons’.


Week 10:

11 – 17.8.19

11.8.19 At a protest near Tsim Sha Tsui police station, police fired beanbag round hits and ruptures a young woman’s eye. The same night, riot police chase protesters into Tai Koo subway station, firing pepper ball rounds. Police also launch tear gas inside Kwai Fong subway station.


This appears to be a concerted attempt by the police to take steps to control the protests. The proportionality of the police action is disputed.
12.8.19 – 13.8.19 Protesters occupy airport complaining of excessive police violence. Hundreds of flights cancelled. Protesters attack two mainland Chinese men in their midst.


16.8.19 Rally in support of higher education. MSM reports 60,000 protesters.


17.8.19 Rally by teachers. MSM reports 22,000 protesters.


Week 11: 18.7.19 – 24.8.19
18.8.19 Large demonstration. MSM reports of numbers vary but appear to be around 1.7 million. Demonstration was peaceful. Suggestion of de-escalation.


19.8.19 Crowdfunding advertisements placed in international newspapers.


The second exercise (first on 24.6.19).
23.8.19 Accountants hold rally at noon. A ‘Hong Kong Way’ human chain later held to recreate the anti-Soviet Baltic Way demonstration of 1989.


MSM report accountants in their thousands. The human chain is estimated at around 210,000.
24.8.19 Demonstrators in Kwun Tong pull down ‘smart’ or fear of surveillance.


Week 12:

25 – 31.8.19

25.8.19 Protesters throw bricks and Molotov cocktails in Tsuen Wan. Police respond with water cannons. They also fire live warning shots for the first time.


This appears to be an escalation.
28.8.19 Rally to protest China’s pressure on Cathay Pacific.


MSM reports that protesters in the hundreds. China had previously expressed its dissatisfaction over Cathay Pacific’s staff involvement in the protests. This led its CEO Robert Hogg to resign. Some Cathay Pacific staff were fired.


29.8.19 Andy Chan, a Hong Kong independence activist, was arrested.


Beginning of police strategy to arrest those deemed ‘troublemakers’.
30.8.19 Agnes Chow and Joshua Wong, members of the pro-democracy organization Demosistō are arrested and charged with organising illegal rallies. Separately, three pro-democracy legislators, Cheng Chung-tai, Au Nok-hin, and Jeremy Tam, for offenses in previous protests. All five arrested were released on bail.


31.8.19 Protests escalate on the fifth anniversary of the ‘831 Framework’. Bricks and Molotov cocktails thrown. Barricades set on fire. Train stations vandalised. Police fire water cannons with blue dye to identify protesters. At Prince Edward station, riot police beat and pepper-spray passengers.


The 831 Framework allows China to screen candidates for the Hong Kong Chief Executive.

The level and proportionality of the protesters and police actions are in dispute.

Week 13: 1 – 7.9.19
1.9.19 Protesters stage a sit-in at the Hong Kong airport. Airport train stations vandalised. Roads leading to the terminal blocked. 41 flights cancelled.


Appears to be a deliberate strategy to internationalise the issues.
2.9.19 University students decide to boycott classes for two weeks. Rally of high school students held.


Numbers involved are disputed. Some reports say that 30,000 university students boycott classes. Other reports say the numbers were negligible. Reports say about 4,000 high school students attended the rally. This figure is also disputed.


4.9.19 CL announces withdrawal of bill. No effect on protesters to whom this appears to come too late.


6.9.19 Protesters at Prince Edward subway station demand release of security camera footage of police action on 31.8.19. Protesters vandalise Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei subway stations to protest the MTR’s cooperation with the police.


7.9.19 Many train stations in the New Territories are vandalised.


Week 14:

8 – 14.9.19

8.9.19 Tens of thousands of protesters march to the US Consulate to urge American lawmakers to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Protesters smash glass at the Central subway station and start a fire at one entrance.


MSM report that the march was largely peaceful and that the vandalism came from a few, but this is disputed. The sought US Act would take the internationalisation of the issues to a new level.
9.9.19 High school students and graduates form a human chain before classes begin.


MSM say numbers in thousands.
A new protest song – ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ is sung across shopping malls by Hong Kongers.


MSM say hundreds were involved.
Week 15:

15 – 21.9.19

15.9.19 Violent protests result in closure of Wan Chai, Admiralty and Causeway Bay stations. Petrol bombs thrown and fires lit overnight.


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