How did the movement begin?
After 150 years as a British colony, Hong Kong was returned to Chinese control in 1997. The city was made a Special Administrative District and guaranteed 50 years of autonomy under the principle of one country, two systems. Progress towards the establishment of universal suffrage and the direct election of the Chief Executive broke down in 2014 when the National People’s Congress insisted that Hong Kong citizens would be permitted to vote for only two or three candidates, pre-screened by a nominating committee. The Umbrella Movement developed in response to these changes.
Students responded with demonstrations beginning in September calling for true democracy with direct elections. After these initial protests, tens of thousands joined the cause transforming three of Hong Kong’s busiest areas - Admiralty, Mong Kok, and Causeway Bay - into centers of protest. Citing Hong Kong’s status as a semiautonomous Chinese territory, some disagreed with the protest’s premise and argued that the movement caused undue disruption.