- The city was rocked by the 2014 Occupy movement in this period, a precursor to greater unrest to come as brewing political sentiment bubbled to the forefront of society
Over a decade after the handover, simmering tensions in society over the quest for greater democracy began bubbling over. Protests over the national education curriculum, which erupted at the beginning of Leung Chun-ying’s administration in 2012, fanned the flames of distrust towards the government.
The demonstrations were followed by the 2014 Occupy protests. Also called the “umbrella movement”, the 79-day sit-in was sparked by Beijing’s framework for universal suffrage which would offer voters two to three pre-vetted candidates they could elect as chief executive. Months later in 2015, the package was vetoed in the legislature, with activists labelling it a “fake” democratic model.
The Occupy protests ushered in a new era of political activism among the younger generation. Their demands for greater autonomy coincided with the rise of localism, a nativist movement to preserve Hong Kong’s identity amid the perceived encroachment of the central government into the city’s affairs. Localists often whipped up anti-mainland sentiments, complaining about the influx of mainlanders into border towns, for example. Fringe groups espousing self-determination and independence also emerged then, much to the ire of Beijing. These forces were dealt with decisively.
The period is also remembered for a maritime accident that killed 39 residents off the coast of Lamma Island on National Day in 2012 and a mini-storage fire that killed two firefighters and took 108 hours to tame in 2016.