Timeline: Unease grows in Hong Kong about eroding freedoms

Steps by the Chinese and Hong Kong governments in recent years have raised unease among Hong Kong residents about their future, a concern that burst out in a protest by hundreds of thousands of people last weekend.

Many in the semiautonomous Chinese territory worry the freedoms they enjoy under a “one-country, two-systems” framework are eroding, as both governments use carrots and sticks to draw Hong Kong into China’s orbit.

The former British colony was returned to China in 1997 under the framework, which guarantees it the right to retain its own social, legal and political systems for 50 years. A look at recent events:

In this Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, file photo, a protester is arrested by police officers outside government headquarters in Hong Kong. Pro-democracy protesters clashed with police as they tried to surround Hong Kong government headquarters late Sunday, stepping up their movement for genuine democratic reforms after camping out on the city's streets for more than two months. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)
In this Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, file photo, a protester is arrested by police officers outside government headquarters in Hong Kong. Pro-democracy protesters clashed with police as they tried to surround Hong Kong government headquarters late Sunday, stepping up their movement for genuine democratic reforms after camping out on the city’s streets for more than two months. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

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September-December 2014: Protesters seeking direct elections for Hong Kong’s leader lay siege to government headquarters for 79 days but fail to win any concessions. The movement inspires a new generation of political activists but also builds cynicism about the power of popular movements to effect political change.

October 2015: Four people connected with a Hong Kong publisher and bookshop that published books banned in China go missing. A fifth person disappears in December. Chinese authorities later say they were detained for investigations into criminal activity. The case raises questions about freedom of expression in Hong Kong.

In this Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, file photo, police officers walk past fire set by protestors in Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Hong Kong's Lunar New Year celebration descended into chaotic scenes as protesters and police clashed over a street market selling fish balls and other local holiday delicacies. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, file photo, police officers walk past fire set by protestors in Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Hong Kong’s Lunar New Year celebration descended into chaotic scenes as protesters and police clashed over a street market selling fish balls and other local holiday delicacies. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

July 2017: Carrie Lam becomes Hong Kong’s chief executive.

January 2018: Gui Minhai, one of the booksellers who disappeared in 2015, is arrested on a train in China while traveling with two Swedish diplomats. Gui, a Swedish citizen, had been released in October 2017.

September 2018: A high-speed rail link opens between Hong Kong and mainland China. Passengers clear Chinese immigration inside the station in Hong Kong, prompting protests from some opposition lawmakers that Chinese law would apply in the immigration area.

In this Saturday, June 18, 2016, file photo, freed Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee speaks in front of his book store in Hong Kong as the protesters are marching to the Chinese central government's liaison office. The detention of several Hong Kong booksellers in late 2015 intensified worries about the erosion of Hong Kong's rule of law. The booksellers vanished before resurfacing in police custody in mainland China. Among them, Swedish citizen Gui Minhai is currently being investigated on charges of leaking state secrets after he sold gossipy books about Chinese leaders. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
In this Saturday, June 18, 2016, file photo, freed Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee speaks in front of his book store in Hong Kong as the protesters are marching to the Chinese central government’s liaison office. The detention of several Hong Kong booksellers in late 2015 intensified worries about the erosion of Hong Kong’s rule of law. The booksellers vanished before resurfacing in police custody in mainland China. Among them, Swedish citizen Gui Minhai is currently being investigated on charges of leaking state secrets after he sold gossipy books about Chinese leaders. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

September 2018: Hong Kong bans the Hong Kong National Party, which advocates independence for the territory, on national security grounds. The ban is seen as an unprecedented step to quash separatist voices.

October 2018: Hong Kong-based Financial Times editor Victor Mallet has his application to renew his work visa rejected. Authorities won’t say why, but it comes after Mallet introduced the leader of the Hong Kong National Party at a Foreign Correspondents’ Club event in August.

October 2018: China’s President Xi Jinping presides over ceremony opening a 55-kilometer (34-mile) -long bridge linking Hong Kong and Macau to the mainland.

In this Oct. 26, 2016, file photo, newly elected Hong Kong lawmakers Yau Wai-ching, right, and Sixtus Leung, left, are surrounded by photographers at the legislature council in Hong Kong. Unruly scenes have gripped Hong Kong's legislature as two newly elected lawmakers defied an order barring them from entering to retake their oaths after being disqualified for swearing and insulting China the first time. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)
In this Oct. 26, 2016, file photo, newly elected Hong Kong lawmakers Yau Wai-ching, right, and Sixtus Leung, left, are surrounded by photographers at the legislature council in Hong Kong. Unruly scenes have gripped Hong Kong’s legislature as two newly elected lawmakers defied an order barring them from entering to retake their oaths after being disqualified for swearing and insulting China the first time. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

February 2019: China announces plans to create a Greater Bay Area encompassing Hong Kong, Macau and neighboring Guandong province in the mainland to foster economic development. The move is seen as an effort to deepen ties among Hong Kong, Macau and the mainland.

April 2019: Lam’s government introduces amendments to Hong Kong’s extradition laws that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to China. Opponents say the changes would damage the territory’s legal independence and suspects would not be guaranteed fair trials.

April 2019: A Hong Kong court convicts nine leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy demonstrations known as the “Umbrella Movement.” Hong Kong judges were reportedly under pressure from China to hand down heavy sentences to deter future protests.

In this Monday, March 27, 2017, file photo, Hong Kong's chief executive-elect Carrie Lam stands in front of reporters at government headquarter in Hong Kong. Hong Kong voters cannot directly elect their chief executive. Lam was elected in 2017 by a committee dominated by pro-Beijing elites and is widely seen as the Communist Party's favored candidate. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)
In this Monday, March 27, 2017, file photo, Hong Kong’s chief executive-elect Carrie Lam stands in front of reporters at government headquarter in Hong Kong. Hong Kong voters cannot directly elect their chief executive. Lam was elected in 2017 by a committee dominated by pro-Beijing elites and is widely seen as the Communist Party’s favored candidate. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

June 2019: Hundreds of thousands march through central Hong Kong to protest the proposed changes to the extradition laws.

In this Friday, March 23, 2018, file photo, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during the Main Works Completion Ceremony of the Express Rail Link Hong Kong section in West Kowloon terminus of Hong Kong. A high-speed rail link opens between Hong Kong and mainland China. Passengers clear Chinese immigration inside the station in Hong Kong, raising protest from some opposition lawmakers that Chinese law would apply in the immigration area. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
In this Friday, March 23, 2018, file photo, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during the Main Works Completion Ceremony of the Express Rail Link Hong Kong section in West Kowloon terminus of Hong Kong. A high-speed rail link opens between Hong Kong and mainland China. Passengers clear Chinese immigration inside the station in Hong Kong, raising protest from some opposition lawmakers that Chinese law would apply in the immigration area. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
In this Aug. 14, 2018, file photo, The Financial Times Asia news editor, Victor Mallet, right, shakes hands with Andy Chan, founder of the Hong Kong National Party, during a luncheon at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong. Hong Kong-based Financial Times editor Victor Mallet has his application to renew his work visa rejected. Authorities won't say why, but comes after Mallet introduced the leader of the Hong Kong National Party at a Foreign Correspondents' Club event in August. (Pool Photo via AP, File)
In this Aug. 14, 2018, file photo, The Financial Times Asia news editor, Victor Mallet, right, shakes hands with Andy Chan, founder of the Hong Kong National Party, during a luncheon at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong. Hong Kong-based Financial Times editor Victor Mallet has his application to renew his work visa rejected. Authorities won’t say why, but comes after Mallet introduced the leader of the Hong Kong National Party at a Foreign Correspondents’ Club event in August. (Pool Photo via AP, File)
In this Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, file photo, protesters dress as People's Liberation Army (PLA) during a protest outside the Western Kowloon Station against the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Express Rail Link in Hong Kong. A high-speed rail link opens between Hong Kong and mainland China. Passengers clear Chinese immigration inside the station in Hong Kong, raising protest from some opposition lawmakers that Chinese law would apply in the immigration area. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, file photo, protesters dress as People’s Liberation Army (PLA) during a protest outside the Western Kowloon Station against the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Express Rail Link in Hong Kong. A high-speed rail link opens between Hong Kong and mainland China. Passengers clear Chinese immigration inside the station in Hong Kong, raising protest from some opposition lawmakers that Chinese law would apply in the immigration area. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Monday, April 29, 2019, file photo,
In this Monday, April 29, 2019, file photo, “Occupy Central” leaders Benny Tai wearing prisoner uniform, left, is escorted by Correctional Services officers at a prison yard before being transferred to another prison in Hong Kong. A Hong Kong court convicts nine leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy demonstrations known as the “Umbrella Movement.” Hong Kong judges were reportedly under pressure from China to hand down heavy sentences to deter future protests. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Sunday, June 9, 2019, file photo, protesters march along a downtown street against the proposed amendments to an extradition law in Hong Kong. Hundreds of thousands march through central Hong Kong to protest the proposed changes to the extradition laws. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)
In this Sunday, June 9, 2019, file photo, protesters march along a downtown street against the proposed amendments to an extradition law in Hong Kong. Hundreds of thousands march through central Hong Kong to protest the proposed changes to the extradition laws. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

2019-06-11T23:30:15-05:00

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