China

The Hong Kong protests explained in 100 and 500 words

A riot police officer pushes journalist away using his baton. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Clashes between police and protesters have grown increasingly violent

Anti-government protests have rocked Hong Kong for months and the situation shows no sign of dying down.

Here's all the background you need to know in 100 or 500 words - you can read each individually or in turn.

Hong Kong's protests started in June against proposals to allow extradition to mainland China.

Critics feared this could undermine the city's judicial independence and endanger dissidents.

Until 1997, Hong Kong was a British colony - meaning it was controlled by Britain. Since returning to Chinese rule, it has more autonomy than the mainland, and its people more rights. The arrangement is known as "one country, two systems".

City leader Carrie Lam agreed to suspend the extradition bill, but demonstrations developed to include demands for full democracy and an inquiry into police actions.

The bill was withdrawn in September. But clashes between police and activists have become increasingly violent, with police firing live bullets and protesters attacking officers and throwing petrol bombs.

The extradition bill which triggered the first protest was introduced in April. It would have allowed for criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China under certain circumstances.

Opponents said this risked exposing Hong Kongers to unfair trials and violent treatment. They also argued the bill would give China greater influence over Hong Kong and could be used to target activists and journalists.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets. After weeks of protests, leader Carrie Lam eventually said the bill would be suspended indefinitely.

How did the protests escalate?

Protesters feared the bill could be revived, so demonstrations continued, calling for it to be withdrawn completely.

By then clashes between police and protesters had become more frequent and violent.

In July, protesters stormed parliament, defacing parts of it. A masked mob armed with sticks - suspected to be triad gangsters - also assaulted protesters and passers-by inside Yuen Long station, far from the city centre.

In August, one protester was injured in the eye, leading to demonstrators wearing red-coloured eye patches to show their solidarity.

Protest action at Hong Kong international airport in August also saw renewed clashes and led to hundreds of flights being cancelled.

In September, the bill was finally withdrawn, but protesters said this was "too little, too late".

On 1 October, while China was celebrating 70 years of Communist Party rule, Hong Kong experienced one of its most "violent and chaotic days".

An 18-year-old was shot in the chest with a live bullet, one of six rounds were fired by police. Protesters also fought officers with poles, petrol bombs and other projectiles.

The government has now banned protesters wearing face masks - though they have defied this.

What do the protesters want?

Some protesters have adopted the motto: "Five demands, not one less!" These are:

  • For the protests not to be characterised as a "riot"
  • Amnesty for arrested protesters
  • An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality
  • Implementation of complete universal suffrage

The fifth demand, the withdrawal of the bill, has already been met.

Some also want the resignation of Carrie Lam, whom they view as Beijing's puppet.

Protests supporting the Hong Kong movement have spread across the globe, with rallies taking place in the UK, France, US, Canada and Australia.

In many cases, people supporting the demonstrators were confronted by pro-Beijing rallies.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has warned against separatism, saying any attempt to divide China would end in "bodies smashed and bones ground to powder".

What is Hong Kong's status?

Hong Kong is a former British colony handed back to China in 1997.

It has its own judiciary and a separate legal system from mainland China. Those rights include freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.

But those freedoms - the Basic Law - expire in 2047 and it is not clear what Hong Kong's status will then be.

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Media captionThe BBC's Helier Cheung on why people are taking to the streets in Hong Kong
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Media caption100 days of protests in Hong Kong in 100 seconds

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