June 17, 2021

Hong Kong’s year in seven intense emotions

Saturday 30 March 2019 was the last normal day. Clear and sunny, it began like any other weekend in Hong Kong with its singular cocktail of frenetic leisure – family lunches, shopping late into the neon-lit night and cute selfies at every opportunity.

The next day, something more political began. A few thousand people marched through a dispiriting drizzle to protest against a proposal that would have allowed extradition to China: “With extradition to the mainland, Hong Kong becomes a dark prison,” they chanted.

It didn’t get much coverage then. But the city was listening.

Within six months, Hong Kong was a place of huge protest marches, street battles and an unapologetic police response of tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannon and live fire. Teenagers shot bows and arrows, the parliament chamber was vandalised, hundreds of young people now know how to make Molotov cocktails and start fires. But after the bill was withdrawn, the anger became more palpable if anything.

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