Before the pandemic and the enactment of a national security law in 2020, July 1 – the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from British to Chinese rule – was traditionally marked by pro-democracy marches.
On this day three years ago, voting grew out of anger over a proposed law that would have allowed extradition to China from the city, which brought hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers into the streets, eventually forcing the government to suspend the bill.
Critics feared that the law could be used to capture government critics and send them across the border to face trial in a system with a 99% conviction rate and a history of political lawsuits.
Before the main march begins on 1 July 2019, A small, broken-down group of protesters – many of them in their teens and 20s and wearing masks, helmets and other protective gear – surrounded the Legislative Council complex.
Using makeshift beating rams and metal bars to break through reinforced glass, members of the group made their way into Legco, where they raised anti-extradition bill slogans on the walls, broke down the interior, and broke through the main chamber. In the middle draped the pre-colonial flag of the region. Forum.
Police did not act as protesters stormed or stormed the building, and hundreds were able to stay in the legislature for three hours before word of an impending evacuation campaign brought them back to the streets.
Within minutes of the protesters taking a collective decision to exit the building, police fired tear gas and lathi-charged the crowd to disperse the crowd.
next day, The then Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam, condemned the protesters’ actions, saying they had used “excessive … violence and vandalism”.
The response of the Chinese government was similarly critical. A spokesman for the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said the “radical” demonstrations were an “open challenge” to the city’s governance system.
“Such serious illegal action undermines Hong Kong’s law, social order and harms Hong Kong’s fundamental interests,” the statement said.
How it is seen today: The storming of Legco marked a turning point in the protest movement and China’s view of it. Exactly a year later, Beijing bypasses the city’s legislature enact national security law The city, which critics say, has been used to crush the city’s opposition movement, overhaul its electoral system, silence its outspoken media, and cripple its once vibrant civil society.