In Hong Kong on 27 May, over 300,000 people gathered at Happy Valley Racecourse for a gathering called Democratic songs dedicated for China. Many Hong Kong celebrities sang songs and expressed their support for the students in Beijing.
A procession of 1.5 million people, one fourth of Hong Kong's population, led by Martin Lee, Szeto Wah and other organization leaders, paraded through Hong Kong Island. Across the world, especially where ethnic-Chinese lived, people gathered and protested. Many governments, including those of the United States and Japan, issued travel warnings to China.
On March 4, a 27-year-old Hong Kong man who had visited a guest in Metropole (on the ninth floor) 11 days earlier was admitted to Prince of Wales Hospital. At least 99 hospital workers (including 17 medical students) were infected while treating him.
On April 8, SARS started to plague the Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate near Amoy Gardens in Kowloon. Hong Kong health officials warned that SARS had spread so far domestically and abroad that it was here to stay.
On April 9, James Earl Salisbury died of SARS at a hospital in Hong Kong. An American Mormon and a teacher at Shenzhen Polytechnic. He had been sick for approximately one month before his death, but he was originally diagnosed with pneumonia. His son Michael "Mickey" Salisbury was with him in China and also contracted the disease, but he survived it. Salisbury's death led to more open admissions by the Chinese government about the spread of SARS.
Since 1997, the implementation of the Hong Kong Basic Law Article 45 and Article 68, which states that the Chief Executive (CE) and the Legislative Council (LegCo) should be chosen by universal suffrage, has dominated the political agenda in Hong Kong. The pro-democracy camp, one of the two largest political alignments in the territory, has called for the early implementation of the universal suffrage since the 1980s. After more than 500,000 people protested against the legislation of national security law as stipulated in the Basic Law Article 23 on 1 July 2003, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) in April 2004 ruled out universal suffrage before 2012.
On 8 February during the 2016 Chinese New Year holidays, the Mong Kok civil unrest broke out between police and protesters following the government's crackdown on unlicensed street hawkers. Batons and pepper spray were used by the police and two warning shots were fired into the air, while protesters threw glass bottles, bricks, flower pots and trash bins toward the police and set fires in the streets. The main participant in the event, Hong Kong Indigenous, a political group with pro-independence tendencies, was branded by Director of the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong Zhang Xiaoming as "radical separatists" who were "inclined toward terrorism."
Hong Kong National Party, the first party openly advocating for Hong Kong independence and a Republic of Hong Kong was established on 28 March 2016, drawing attacks from the Beijing and SAR governments. The State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office issued a statement condemning the party, saying it "has harmed the country’s sovereignty, security, endangered the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and the core interests of Hong Kong..."
Demosistō, a political party mainly led by the former student leaders such as Joshua Wong and Nathan Law in the 2014 Occupy protests established on 10 April 2016, advocated a referendum to determine Hong Kong's sovereignty after 2047, when the "One Country, Two Systems" principle as promised in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Hong Kong Basic Law is supposed to expire.
In the 2016 Legislative Council election, six pro-independence activists were disqualified, including Hong Kong Indigenous' Edward Leung and Hong Kong National Party's Chan Ho-tin, by the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC), in which the government argued that their pro-independence stances did not comply with the Basic Law Article 1 which stated that Hong Kong being an inalienable part of China and Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542) § 40 which required all candidates to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Their oaths were invalidated by the LegCo secretary-general Kenneth Chen and were subsequently challenged by the government in the court. On 7 November 2016, the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) interpreted the Article 104 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong to "clarify" the provision of the legislators to swear allegiance to Hong Kong as part of China when they take office. The spokesman of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office stated that "[Beijing] will absolutely neither permit anyone advocating secession in Hong Kong nor allow any pro-independence activists to enter a government institution."
After the disqualification of the two legislators, the government launched the second wave of legal challenge against four more pro-democracy legislators who used the oath-taking ceremony, including Demosistō's Nathan Law as well as Lau Siu-lai, who ran their campaigns with the "self-determination" slogan. On 14 July 2017, the four legislators were unseated by the court.
On 4 September 2017, the Hong Kong independence issue made a high-profile reappearance as the banners calling for independence surfaced at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) overnight ahead of the new academic year. The school staff quickly removed them.
On 11 September, Chief Executive Carrie Lam denounced the pro-independence banners and posters, asserting the students' message ran counter to the "one country, two systems" principle and the Basic Law, "I condemn the continued appearance of such remarks on university campuses, which is in violation of our country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and development interests," she said. She also insisted academic freedom and university autonomy were no excuse for propagating fallacies.
On 15 September, ten university heads in Hong Kong, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Lingnan University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Education University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Open University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong, condemned the "recent abuses" of the freedom of expression in a joint statement, adding that all the universities do not support Hong Kong independence as it contravenes the Basic Law.
In the March 2018 Legislative Council by-elections for the four seats left vacant by the disqualified legislators over the oath-taking controversy, three candidates were disqualified by the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) returning officers, including Demosistō's Agnes Chow on the basis of that she "cannot possibly comply with the requirements of the relevant electoral laws, since advocating or promoting 'self-determination' is contrary to the content of the declaration that the law requires a candidate to make to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region]".
In August, a controversy erupted in 2018 when the FCC hosted a lunchtime talk with Andy Chan (pro-independence political activist. He is a founding member and the convenor of the Hong Kong National Party, the first party to advocate for Hong Kong independence), convenor of the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) to take place on 14 August. Victor Mallet, Vice-chairman of the press organisation, chaired the session.
Mallet (Victor Mallet visa controversy is an incident in Hong Kong in 2018 that many pundits consider as having major implications for freedom of speech in Hong Kong. The Foreign Correspondents' Club scheduled a lunchtime talk for 14 August) was subjected to a four-hour interrogation by immigration officers on his return from Thailand on Sunday 7 October before he was finally allowed to enter Hong Kong.
On 2 December, Chu was told that his candidacy was invalid, making him the tenth candidate barred from running in the election for his political belief and the first banned from running in the village-level election.