10 key political events in Hong Kong since the 1997 Handover
In the 20 years since reunification with China, we look at significant moments that have changed the city's political landscape
On July 1, 1997, China’s five-star red flag was raised over Hong Kong for the first time in 156 years. It drew an end to the British colonial rule and opened a new chapter for Hong Kong as it became one of the special administrations of China under the “one country, two systems” framework.
Ahead of its 20th anniversary, Asia Times lists 10 key political events in Hong Kong since the 1997 Handover that is of significance and somewhat shaped the city’s political climate today.
July 1, 2003
Half a million people showed up to march against the Article 23 national security legislation, which protestors feared would restrict civil liberties in Hong Kong. The law was proposed by the Hong Kong government in September 2002. It prohibits acts of treason, secession, sedition, and subversion.
Tung Chee-hwa, the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong since the handover, resigned amid mounting criticism of his rule, citing his failing health. Tung was succeeded in June by Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.
Anti-globalization protesters took to the streets as delegates gather in Hong Kong at the World Trade Organization’s summit. Clashes with police throughout the six-day meeting occasionally turned violent, as officers used pepper spray on activists.
July 1, 2007
Chinese President Hu Jintao traveled to Hong Kong for the Special Administrative Region’s 10th anniversary. More than 40,000 attended harbourfront fireworks while 68,000 protested on the streets demanding more political freedom.
A proposal to introduce a compulsory national education subject in schools provoked outrage among Hong Kong citizens, fearing the government’s attempt to brainwash future generations to support Beijing.
April 23, 2014
Former Ming Pao editor and veteran journalist Kevin Lau Chun-to was attacked and admitted to hospital. The incident prompted a huge demonstration and citywide debate about the future of press freedom in Hong Kong.
June 29, 2014
Nearly 800,000 Hongkongers took part in an unofficial referendum on proposals on how to bring in universal suffrage. More than 90% voted in favor of giving the public a say on short-listing candidates for future elections for chief executive. Beijing condemned the vote as illegal.
September 28, 2014
Hong Kong pro-democracy group Occupy Central launched a mass civil disobedience campaign calling for greater political freedom from Beijing. More than 100,000 people took to the streets at the height of the so-called “Umbrella Movement.” The demonstrations are the most intense civil unrest in Hong Kong’s history as a special administrative region, which were sparked by Beijing’s decision in August to restrict who can stand for the city’s top post.
Five staff members of Causeway Bay Books went missing when traveling in mainland China and Thailand. The unprecedented disappearance shocked the city and raised international concerns over possible abduction of Hong Kong citizens by mainland Chinese public security bureau officials which, if proven, would breach Hong Kong’s Basic Law and its underlying principle of one country, two systems.
The High Court disqualifies two pro-independence legislators Sixtus “Baggio” Leung and Yau Wai-ching after they refused to pledge allegiance to China during a swearing-in ceremony.
Former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was sentenced to 20 months in prison for concealing private rental negotiations with a property tycoon for a luxury apartment in China, in return for awarding its owner a broadcasting license.