Background and Timeline–and Analyses

[updated on Sep 28, 2015]

The Umbrella Movement did not begin when the CNN anchor descended on Hong Kong. The Umbrella Movement was mutated from the Occupy Central movement. Adopting McAdam, Tilly and Tarrow’s terms of processes and episodes, both the Occupy Central and Umbrella Movement are the latest episodes in Hong Kong’s 3-decades-long process of fighting for democracy. Every episode has been marked by a new crisis and a new leadership. HK’s democracy movement was born at the “Ko Shan/high mountain summit” (高山大會) of 1986. In response to the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 which stipulated the drafting of the Basic Law, the then college students and young professionals dreamed of building a democratic Hong Kong. Of course, first-generation activists didn’t just fall from the sky; they had spent years working on social livelihood issues for years. Different groups joined forces to form the Joint Committee on the Promotion of Democratic Government and demanded direct elections to the Legislative Council as soon as 1988. (In Chinese: 民意彙集的政治:論兩次處理香港民意的缺失,八八直選 and民主政制促進聯委會) Probably under pressure from Beijing, the British HK government manipulated a public consultation《代議政制今後的發展白皮書》 and delayed direct elections until 1991, and for only a small portion of the seats. After Tiananmen in 1989, when Hong Kong people held the slogan “Today’s Tiananmen, Tomorrow’s Hong Kong,” the first generation of democrats became more convinced that democracy was the only hope for Hong Kong. The United Democrats was formed in 1990 to contest for 18 directly elected seats (out of 60) of the legislative council in 1991. While the handover in 1997 marked a watershed in Hong Kong’s history, the democracy movement appeared stagnant. The next big push for the democracy movement came when Beijing wanted Hong Kong to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law by introducing the national security bill in 2013. The Article 23 Concerned Group formed of lawyers mobilized half a million to take to the street on July 1. The government shelved the bill afterwards. Another episode came when the government wanted to introduce patriotic education in 2012. This time, high school students founded Scholarism to contest the policy, joining forces with the long-standing Federation of Students formed of college students. After 100,000 people turned out to support students and parents, the government shelved the policy.

Occupy Central was formed in early 2013. While Hong Kong people have long mobilized tens and hundreds of thousands to show up at rallies for an afternoon or an evening, Occupy Central called for a disruptive action for the first time in Hong Kong’s democracy movement. Organizers threatened to bring businesses in the central business district to a halt unless the government made arrangements for genuine universal franchise in the election of the Chief Executive in 2017. Beijing responded by a hardline decision in late August 2014. Thus the Federation of Students mobilized a school boycott in the week of September 22 and Scholarism on the day of September 26. And Occupy Central announced the kick-off of Occupy on Oct. 1. On the night of September 26, Scholarism sought to recover the “Civic Square” which had been the site of the anti-patriotic education campaign in 2012 but was barricaded during the summer of 2014. The rough handling of student activists and the mass arrests enraged the population. When protestors poured into areas surrounding the Central Government Offices on September 27, Occupy Central was forced to begin early, then and there, at the Central Government Offices in Admiralty rather than Central. And Occupy Central, Federation of Students, and Scholarism joined hands in leading the revised Occupy movement. As ever more protestors turned out in the weekend, the government sent out the riot police and used pepper spray and tear gas on September 28. When rumors spread that the police would escalate to rubber bullets, the joint leadership called for a complete retreat. By then, outraged protestors not only refused to retreat, but also spread out to Causeway Bay and Mongkok. Photos of hundreds of thousands of protestors spanning Admiralty soon became the iconic images of the Umbrella Movement. It was only then that the CCN anchor descended on the scene.

The next question is: when will this movement end? Surely not when international journalists leave:-) So far [as of Nov. 8], every prediction that it was ending or fizzling out or failing has been proven wrong. According to most protestors, the moment when they withdraw is also the moment when the real struggle begins, at a new level. According to Jimmy Lai: “I’ve been working in the media for so long, so I’m supposed to understand the people. But I tell you, I don’t. I don’t understand them. Their potential power and fighting spirit is something I’ve just discovered. It’s amazing.”… “I was quite shocked by the young people. I told myself that I really have to reassess and understand the Hong Kong people. It shows that the intensity of this movement is limitless. Its depth is bottomless. You never expect people to have such persistence and be so fearless.” (Apple Daily Owner Full of Wonder at Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy ‘Kids’ ) Original Hong Kong Occupy plan veered off script: today, the Occupy Central protests that Tai launched with conviction on September 28 have deviated markedly from his script – in ways that he and his two co-founders had not imagined in their wildest dreams… ( [April 23] SCMP’s updated timeline

Hong Kong protest 2014: Umbrella Revolution timeline:

Timeline on standnews Documentary: Almost a Revolution Occupy Sense 99


Scholarism recovered the Civic Square

CY3years-07_MXNWZ_1200x0 10476517_316237365252816_8867139164742856116_n

MULTIMEDIA: Tracing the moments of Occupy in Hong Kong’s streets

「 有 傘 有 聚 」 的 75 個 晝 夜

Commemoration video on the 100th day — Jan. 6, 2015:

Timeline: Hong Kongers Call for Democracy and Universal Suffrage

A cartoon timeline: Harry’s View on Occupy Central

Umbrella Movement Through the Eyes of Students

The Movement That Changed Hong Kong: A Timeline 

The Democratic Umbrella:

Tracing the history of Hong Kong’s umbrella movement

An assessment after clearing, held at HKU on Dec. 19: 19DEC2014 香港雨傘運動的回顧與展望

How Beijing may tighten its grip on HK

2014大事回顧《雨傘運動與藍絲帶》 and  2014大事回顧《政改與立法會》

The government’s public sentiments report — dubbed an exercise of cutting and pasting news sources — provides a selective timeline in Annex II,




Hong Kong In-Media Under Umbrella:Photo Exhibition and Installations 《傘下獨媒:雨傘運動照片/裝置展》

HK Journalists’ collection 《傘下人‧情‧事──香港記者佔領採訪集思

英文書記傘運 型男律師不怕膠 

Umbrellas in Bloom: HKFP Interview: Author Jason Ng reflects on the Umbrella Movement and Hong Kong’s recent local elections

HRW’s useful background:

CECC resources on the Umbrella movement:

Al Jazeera’s two-part report goes behind the scenes with a pro-democracy campaign trying to ensure free elections in Hong Kong.

Umbrella Diaries

Wikipedia’s site:

Beware of anti-Occupy publications:  多本「批佔中」新書 圖扭曲歷史 中資書店力推;  指《「佔中」透視》失實 獨立評論人協會發律師信


On constitutional and legal issues, see Michael Davis on HK and separate background.



LEGALISTIC AND UTOPIAN Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement (requires login)

Two Occupys, and the New Global Language of Protest

The law faculty of the University of Hong Kong have a blog on legal issues:


British Views of the Legacy of the Colonial Administration of Hong Kong: A Preliminary Assessment – Brian Hook

The Legacy of the British Administration of Hong Kong: A View from Hong Kong – Ming K. Chan

The Partnership between the Chinese Government and Hong Kong’s Capitalist Class: Implications for HKSAR Governance, 1997–2012 – Brian C.H. Fong

Street Politics in a Hybrid Regime: The Diffusion of Political Activism in Post-colonial Hong Kong – Edmund W. Cheng

The Rise of “Localism” and Civic Identity in Post-handover Hong Kong: Questioning the Chinese Nation-state – Sebastian Veg

Deeper background: Self identification by HK people since 1997:

Activism on the Rise:

The Embattled CY:

15 Years of “One Country, Two Systems” : and

Ho-fung Hung assesses Three Views of Local Consciousness in Hong Kong, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 43, No. 1, November 3, 2014.

Chan, Koon-chung. 2012. Zhongguo tianchao zhuyi yu Xianggang (China’s Heavenly Doctrine and Hong Kong). Hong Kong: Oxford University Press. Chin Wan. 2011. Xianggang Chengbang lun (On Hong Kong as a city state). Hong Kong: Enrich Publishing. Jiang Shigong. 2008. Zhongguo Xianggang: wenhua yu zhengzhi de shiye (China’s Hong Kong: cultural and political perspectives). Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.

Sebastian Veg, “Hong Kong’s Enduring Identity Crisis,” The Atlantic, 10/16/2013. (

MA Ngok, “Value Changes and Legitimacy Crisis in Post-industrial Hong Kong,” Asian Survey, 51, 4, 2011, 683-712. [HK Ma ] His 香港80年代民主運動口述歷史 has a very good timeline.

Brian C. H. Fong, State-Society Conflicts under Hong Kong’s Hybrid Regime: Governing Coalition Building and Civil Society Challenges, Asian Survey, Vol. 53, No. 5 (September/October 2013), pp. 854-882

Deng Xiaoping said when announcing the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984:

We should have faith in the Chinese of Hong Kong, who are quite capable of administering their own affairs. The notion that Chinese cannot manage Hong Kong affairs satisfactorily is a leftover from the old colonial mentality . . . We are convinced that the people of Hong Kong are capable of running the affairs of Hong Kong well. (Hong Kong and the Demise of ‘One Country, Two Systems’

—- PassionTimes024_P13web 11408_799783880084781_9005087060999367786_n 11407_799783886751447_3894196983166958834_n 10443358_799783876751448_5050488155375361033_n PT1000URtimeline1205p1 PT1000URtimeline1205p2 PT1000URtimeline1205p3 10750484_792208297508918_8408192136354056628_o 11071540_769241399828149_4409044922836239013_n 10480226_10152762883768887_1823293785451774033_n —– The “Ko Shan/high mountain summit (高山大會): 高山大會


Filed under Umbrella Movement

4 responses to “Background and Timeline–and Analyses

  1. Pingback: Background: constitutional and legal issues | Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement

  2. Pingback: Background: constitutional and legal issues | Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement

  3. Pingback: “Art of the Impossible” — “No, you can’t” v “Yes, we can” | Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement

  4. Pingback: The End of Fake Universal Franchise (For Now) | Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s