The bill was introduced after Chan Tong-kai, a Hong Kong resident, was accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend in 2018 in Taiwan and returning to Hong Kong.
Many Hong Kong citizens said they did not like that mainland China was included in the proposed extradition bill. They said they felt it was a violation of the “one country, two systems” agreement it has with Beijing.
Lik Sam Chan, an assistant professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the people of Hong Kong feared the bill would not be used primarily for criminal suspects.
“We believe that the bill is actually a way for the government to extradite political criminals from Hong Kong back to China,” Chan said.
On Oct. 23, Chinese authorities withdrew the extradition bill and released Tong-kai from prison.
But the protests continued, with some of the most violent clashes between protestors and police taking place on several university campuses.
At CUHK, a campus built on a hillside and the largest in Hong Kong, militant anti-government activists prepared for violent clashes with police beginning on Nov. 11. Students woke up to an official announcement about the cancellation of classes. The statement cited public transportation issues and cautioned staff members to be safe.
Video by Tre'Vaughn Howard.
The university station connected to the Mass Transit Railway, a major public transport network in Hong Kong, closed early that morning after word spread that demonstrators and police were in a tense stand-off near the campus area.
“I went down to the MTR; it was shut and barricaded,” said Bill Wignall, an exchange student from England.
A pedestrian trail on the university campus that can be described as picturesque for a morning hike would lead unknowing runners and cyclist to a stand-off between demonstrators and police. According to several students, police arrived at the bridge where demonstrators were said to have thrown bricks onto the highway as a way to disrupt traffic.
“It was shocking but only to a certain extent,” said Janica Bergas, a senior from the Philippines who is enrolled as a full-time student at CUHK. “It’s become sort of a norm for protestors to find new ways to disrupt the normal flow of life in Hong Kong.”
After being uprooted for combat, brick sidewalks became dirt piles, and white bags filled with supplies ranging from food to empty glass bottles were used for molotov cocktails and stocked near residential areas.
By Nov. 14, the university campus had been overtaken by demonstrators, some of whom were preparing food in hostels, while others drove hotwired university shuttle buses around areas of the campus-turned war zone.
UM student Zeng said she was “shocked” and “horrified” to hear police had arrived to campus to confront protestors.
“After seeing the clashes, I realized that my peers and the CUHK community, including professors and alumni, were willing to continue fighting for their cause despite the challenges,” Zeng said.
“I was saddened to see the changed environment because it showed how quickly a protest could change into focusing on survival and war mentality when the police show up.”
Video by Tre'Vaughn Howard.
Moses Gordon, an exchange student from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, described seeing demonstrators taking over the campus as watching a “modern-day militia,” characterizing their behavior as “cut-throat.”