Hong Kong’s Darkening Future, Through the Eyes of Unbowed Protesters

Hong Kong’s Darkening Future, Through the Eyes of Unbowed Protesters
Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong speaks to media after arriving at a court in Hong Kong, Sept. 30, 2020 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

More than a year ago, months into the escalating protests in Hong Kong, a reporter with a local television station, Tsang, put on a bulletproof vest for the very first time.* She had gone for a drink the night before, wondering if it would be her last. A few days earlier at a protest, a reporter standing next to her was hit in the eye and permanently blinded by a police projectile; on another occasion, her cameraman had yanked her from the spot right before a Molotov cocktail exploded at her feet.

The vest proved to be a wise decision. The marches that day in early October, on Chinese National Day, had been scheduled to draw attention away from a military parade in Beijing celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s rule. In a grim way, it worked: News that a Hong Kong policeman had shot an 18-year-old student protester in the chest grabbed international headlines, rather than the ceremony in Beijing. It was the first time the police force in Hong Kong had used live ammunition against demonstrators who had been protesting for months demanding that Beijing respect the territory’s autonomy.

But Tsang did not know that yet. The newsroom’s manpower had thinned out that October evening, as staff dispersed to cover the protests erupting in different districts of Hong Kong. She had been paired with a new co-worker, one who had trouble putting on his gas mask and didn’t know when or where to take cover in the streets as tear gas and rubber bullets filled the air around them. “We are in a war,” she yelled in frustration, her voice muffled by the mask and drowned out by the chaos.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.