Background. The people of Hong Kong face the accelerating erosion of political and personal freedoms by mainland China’s actions. These freedoms became ingrained in Hong Kong society under British colonial rule in the 19th and 20th centuries. Before the 1997 return of sovereignty to China, the Chinese government agreed to maintain these freedoms for at least fifty years, establishing a “One Country, Two Systems” structure. Despite this agreement, which included the independence of Hong Kong courts, the Chinese government began curtailing these freedoms.
Protests. China’s infringements on Hongkongers’ freedoms led to protests, such as the 2014 Umbrella Movement in response to China’s subversion of the promised free and fair elections. In 2019, with the outrage of the people nearing an ignition point, the introduction of a bill that would allow the extradition of Hong Kong citizens for prosecution in mainland China sparked widespread protests.
Symbol of a Movement: Lady Liberty Hong Kong. Amidst these protests, a team of Hongkongers created Lady Liberty Hong Kong, a three-meter-tall statue symbolizing their fight for democracy and continuing the long tradition of allegorical personification that bore Marianne and Columbia. Lady Liberty is embodied as a protestor bearing the typical livery: respirator, goggles, and hard hat for protection against the excessive use of force by the government; first aid kit and umbrella signifying the non-violent intentions of the protestors; the flag bearing the now-illegal slogan characterizing the movement, “Free Hong Kong, Revolution Now.”
This Project: Endangered. This series brings the Lady Liberty figure to life to highlight the recent events and current situation in Hong Kong. The images convey the people’s hope, courage, fear, and resolve. The photo composite illustrations combine studio photographs of Lady Liberty and other composite elements, photographs of Hong Kong taken over years of visits, and digital illustration.
My Story. My father was born and raised a Hong Kong citizen before emigrating. I visited the city numerous times over the past several decades, from before the return of sovereignty in 1997 to just before the intensification of protests in 2019. I now watch the unfolding events from abroad with the sobering knowledge that there is no guaranteed outcome.
More Information. Here are some resources to learn more:
Reuters Investigative Reporting:
Freedom House studies:
Amnesty International study:
Louisa Lim's book Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong:
Hong Kong advocacy organizations: