The Hong Kong Police Force confirmed that, from the 11th to the 15th of November 2019, a total of 2,330 tear gas bombs, 1,770 rubber bullets, 434 bean bag rounds, 159 sponge bullets and 1 water cannon were shot at the CUHK campus.

In 2019, Hong Kong society was masked with a conflicted atmosphere due to the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement. The bill’s largest controversy was that it allows Hong Kong to transfer fugitives who breach Mainland Chinese Law to China without  the agreement of the legislative council, meaning that the decisions to transfer a fugitive would be decided solely by the Chief executive and the court in HK. (The Chief executive in Hong Kong is elected by around 1000 people). Under the bill, Hong Kong has no authority to investigate any cases and can only bench trial using prima facie evidence that China provides, without considering if there is any reasonable doubt. The law applies to everyone disregarding their nationalities. People are concerned about the bill due to the uncertain political environment in China and its potential effect on Hong Kong’s economic status in the world.

Many police-civilian conflicts and protests took place against the bill since March 2019, some even claiming lives. The death of Chow Tsz-lok was a significant event amongst these. Chow was a 22 years old student of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) who died after a suspicious fall from the third floor to the second floor inside a car park in Tseung Kwan O on 4 November 2019. At the time of his fall, the car park was close to an area of confrontation between protesters and police. From the security camera footage provided by the company Link Reit, Chow was seen to be wandering alone back and forth between the car park and on a connecting footbridge. It is believed that Chow was acting as surveillance for the protesters. When he was found on the second floor, the injuries were located on his body rather than his limbs, which were inconsistent with the injuries resulting from a fatal fall. Even though the police firmly denied their responsibility for his death and claimed to have been nowhere near the parking lot when the incident happened, after some car footage provided by civilians showed the police had entered the parking lot 2 hours before the tragic fall, they admitted the  policemen were sent to the parking lot.  Some student reporters from the HKUST claimed that the vehicles which obstructed the ambulance sent to Chow belonged to the police. Chow’s death remains an open verdict.

Later on on 11 November, some people on the internet called for the second “Three Strikes” (A strike for work, classes and markets. The first one took place roughly a year earlier) to mourn Chow and again urge the government to withdraw the bill. It was the biggest strike throughout the movement and lasted for 17 hours, affecting major tunnels, MTR trails, business activities and universities.

Since CUHK is located near the East Rail Line and Tolo Highway, people decided to use the place as a fortified point in order to achieve the goal of the “Three Strikes.” Once the East Rail Line and Tolo Highway was controlled by the strikers, the traffic of the East Rail Line and Route 9 would be severely affected, causing severe congestion in the New Territories (insert pic w affected areas) 

In order to do so, the protesters went to the Number 1 bridge in CUHK on the morning of 11 November. What ensued has come to be called the siege of CUHK and unfolded as below:


protesters; police; CUHK



6 am – MTR East rail line: roadblocks (train service suspension from Fo Tan to Lo Wu/ Lok Ma Chau)

8 am – Number 2 bridge: pepper-spray pellets -> Molotov cocktails -> tear gas

9-11 am – Direction to CUHK:  rubber bullets and sponge bullets

11:55 am – Chung Chi gate: tear gas, bean bag rounds and rubber bullets 

1 pm – Number 2 bridge: tear gas and rubber bullets -> some were shot

1:30 pm – “the protesters were involved in an illegal assembly”; “the police violated the CUHK Ordinance” (see controversies 1 and 2)

2:25-3 pm – 5 were arrested; pro-democracy representative came

4 pm – suspension of classes


5-8am – entered CUHK

3pm – Sir Phillip Haddon-Cave: tear gas 

3:45pm – Chung Chi Gate: tear gas and rubber bullets 

5:20pm – Number 2 bridge: tear gas and bean bag rounds; pro-democracy and the Principal came to negotiate with the police

7:25pm – refused to negotiate: “the university Principal failed to control his students”

7:30-9:30pm – non-stop shooting tear gas, rubber bullets and sponge bullets with the presence of the school’s Principal and Vice Principal. Suggested another negotiation but failed. In front of the Principal and the Vice Principal: tear gas 

8pm – Number 2 bridge: huge explosion and fire; reporters were injured

8:30 pm – a large amount of serious injuries (one with severe bleeding on head due to bullet wounds)

9:10 pm – some were found unconcious (at least 3 ambulances were stuck outside)

9:56 pm – Facebook and Number 2 bridge: called for a truce while continuing the use of a water cannon

10:07pm – the water cannon and armoured car l eft

10:30pm – former Principal came to negotiate with both sides

11pm – Science park and the CUHK entrance: dragged drivers out of their cars

11:30pm – CUHK representatives, local professors, legislation representatives promised to stay until the police left to prevent another conflict, but the protesters did not trust them


premature end of first term (ended a month earlier than planned); exchange/ overseas students began to evacuate

00:15am – Number 2 bridge: tear gas and rubber bullets 


took over CUHK


3am – some protesters held a press conference and announced they would reopen two lanes of Tolo Highway in exchange for the government not cancelling or postponing the District Council Election; other protesters: furious at the request as it was not related to their original demands (i.e. the 5 demands: 1. Full withdrawal of the extradition bill; 2. A commission of inquiry into alleged police brutality; 3. Retracting the classification of protesters as “rioters”; 4. Amnesty for arrested protesters; 5. Dual universal suffrage, meaning for both the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive) -> left

12 noon – Tolo Highway: the two lanes resumed service 

4pm – “CUHK authority is incompetant”; “all non-local and unaffiliated persons should leave CUHK now”; government: would not agree on any requests from the protesters

7:40pm – Tolo Highway: the once resumed lanes were blocked again

9:30pm – NA college: closed 

10pm – Number 2 bridge: the rest left 

Total injured: >119 protesters; 4 police officers

Total arrested: 9 students

CUHK students arrested: 7 students

Total convicted: 3 (1 student (riot); 1 student (riot + face covering); 1 student (face covering))

CUHK students convicted: 2 (1 student (riot + face covering); 1 student (face covering))

Main controversies after the siege:

  1. Is the Number 2 bridge a part of CUHK?
  • CUHK claimed it is a governmental property (police can enter anytime)
  • Title deed (Lands Department) recorded it as a private property, belongs to CUHK (police needs a warrant)
  1. Police entering university
  • Police in press conference: under Public Order Ordinance, “schools are not private properties”
  • Police in legislative council: “HKU is for sure a private property”
  1. Police violating ceasefire agreement
  • Police were blamed for violating ceasefire agreements 4 times
  • Police blamed the protesters for first violating the agreement
  1. Tear gas pollution
  • Tear gas particulates spreaded to Ma On Shan and Sha Tin Racecourse
  • Massive bird corpses were found in UC College, the cause of death was tear gas

At the end of the protests, the campus was upside down. The roads were blocked with bricks taken from the sidewalks; dorms were emptied of students; classrooms had moved online; the busses were hijacked by protesters; the MTR station was destroyed. A few days after the siege of CUHK, students, teachers and staff came back to clean up the campus. Classes were suspended until the second semester, January 2021. However, the protests in Hong Kong did not stop. Later on, a similar but much more heartbreaking protest in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Poly U) took place, lasting for 16 days. A series of protests occurred all over Hong Kong in support of the siege of Poly U. The two sieges of the universities added fuel to the worsening relationship between the Hong Kong Police and the pro-protest faction.

Although this wasn’t the end of the story for Hong Kong or for CUHK, those five days from the 11th to 15th of November left a deep impact on the students who witnessed it and on the university at large. 2019 was an unsettling year for everyone in Hong Kong and especially for CUHK. Even though the extradition bill has been withdrawn, the tension it brought to our universities and Hong Kong society remains unresolved.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.