Hong Kong citizens organized a peaceful protest imitating the Baltic Way protest on its 30th anniversary. Hong Kong protestors formed a human chain to protest the Fugitive Offender amendment bill, engage citizens and raise international support for their cause.
Problems and Purpose
The Hong Kong extradition bill would undermine the independence of the region and infringe on its citizens’ liberties. The purpose of the Hong Kong Way demonstration was to repeal the Fugitive Offender amendment bill, engage citizens in public demonstration and raise awareness of the cause to increase international support.
Background History and Context
In April of 2019, the Fugitive Offender amendment bill was introduced by the Hong Kong government. If passed, this bill would permit Hong Kong citizens, apprehended by authorities, to be extradited to mainland China. As a former British colony, Hong Kong is mostly autonomous from mainland China and is allowed many liberties that are different from the mainland often called “one country, two systems”. Hong Kong citizens feared that the extradition bill would take away Hong Kong’s independence and was an attempt to remove its citizens’ civil rights. 
The same month that the bill was proposed, Hong Kong citizens started the Anti Extradition Law Amendment Bill (Anti-ELAB) Movement to protest the Fugitive Offender amendment bill.  The Anti-ELAB movement is often compared to the 2014 Umbrella Movement, another citizen led democracy movement, known for its creative protest tactics, particularly the use of umbrellas to protect against pepper spray. The Anti-ELAB protests often use many of the same tactics and symbols seen in the Umbrella Movement.  
The Hong Kong Way was a participatory peaceful demonstration within the Anti-ELAB movement that imitated a demonstration called The Baltic Way in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.  The Baltic Way was a peaceful protest to fight for Baltic states independence from the Soviet Union. During The Baltic Way protest approximately 2 million participants
held hands on August 23, 1989, and made a human chain across 600 kilometers of the Baltic countries. 
Hong Kong citizens decided to hold a similar peaceful protest on August 23, 2019, the 30th anniversary of The Baltic Way, to help raise international awareness of and to voice protest the extradition bill. 
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
This was an entirely independent citizen sponsored event without any centralized leader. Individual citizens were responsible for organizing and executing the protest. Leading up to the protest, participants organized groups to coordinate planning efforts. 
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Protestors used an online forum called LIHKG (similar to Reddit) to organize protest efforts and the protest was open to anyone who wished to participate. 
Approximately, 210,000 Hong Kong citizens participated in the demonstration. The participants varied in age, occupation and other demographics. 
Methods and Tools Used
The peaceful protest demonstration method was used as the participatory process in this case.
The participants used technology methods such as the online forum LIHKG.com for coordination and planning, the messaging Telegram app for communication, Google form for organizing locations and cell phones for flashlights and video recording.   
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Protestors used the online forum LIHKG to discuss protest ideas and created a plan to hold a peaceful protest on the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way protest in 1989. 
Leading up to the protest, participant groups organized and tested routes and created Google forms to poll participants on their desired meeting location and time of the event.  During the demonstration, participants used the messaging app Telegraph to move participants to less crowded areas of the city.  They also organized 40 leaders to oversee the protest across the city and address any issues that arose. 
Participants decided to gather along the sidewalks above the city’s main subway routes along and join hands to create three human chains across the island. 
At 7:00pm on August 23rd 2019, 210,000 protestors gathered above subway routes and joined hands to form human chains that covered 60 kilometers of Hong Kong in peaceful protest. 
Some protestors also climbed Lion Rock, a landmark in Hong Kong, and used flashlights to luminate the human chain formed along the trail. 
Protestors wore masks to conceal their identities which is a symbol of the protest. During the demonstration they also chanted “Hong Kongers, keep going” as well as “Stand with Hong Kong, fight for freedom” and “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” and sang while they held hands.  
The demonstration lasted from 7:00pm-9:00pm. It was reported on by many online publications and social media platforms around the world. 
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The Hong Kong Way protest engaged approximately 210,000 citizens in public demonstration.  This type of demonstration is not common in Hong Kong and participants reported feeling uncomfortable holding hands with strangers at first, but then started seeing each other “as a family” throughout the demonstration. This demonstration changed the attitudes of the participants to make them feel more united. 
The Hong Kong Way protest did succeed in becoming one of many efforts of citizen participation that led to the withdrawal of the Fugitive Offender amendment bill from government deliberation. The bill was officially withdrawn on October 23, 2019. 
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Protestors reported that it was more successful than they originally anticipated as they estimated they only needed 44,000 participants to cover the desired area and ended up with 210,000 protestors. 
This type of demonstration was reported to be a new style of protest that had never been done before in Hong Kong. This is an example of how multiple demonstrations have combined to influenced a current movement. 
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 Lum, A., Chung, K., & Lam, J. (2019, October 23). Hong Kong government formally withdraws 'dead' extradition bill. Retrieved from https://www.scmp.com/news/hong kong/politics/article/3034263/hong-kong-government-officially-withdraws-extradition bill.
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The first version of this case entry was written by Courtney Heptig, a Master of Public Service candidate at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and then edited. The views expressed in the entry are those of the authors, editors, or cited sources, and are not necessarily those of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.