One conflict, many sides: The story of Hong Kong’s year of unrest



Credit: World Scientific & South China Morning Post

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) and international academic publisher World Scientific announced today the launch of Rebel City: Hong Kong’s Year of Water and Fire –a new book that chronicles the political confrontation that has gripped the city since June 2019.

The anthology is a nuanced and in-depth account of the unprecedented turmoil and complex manoeuvrings that defined a summer of discontent, distilled from more than 5,000 news reports, analysis and commentaries from Hong Kong’s paper of record.

Rebel City is more than a collection of stories–it aims to profile the Hong Kong protests without fear or favour, underpinned by journalistic instincts that know every tale has multiple sides. It comprehensively outlines the city’s worst political crisis through a plurality of perspectives that goes beyond the perceived dichotomy of the people of Hong Kong versus its government.

This book is for anyone seeking to understand not just what Hong Kong has gone through but also the global phenomenon of increasingly leaderless protest movements. Edited by SCMP’s Deputy Executive Editor Zuraidah Ibrahim and Political Correspondent Jeffie Lam, the book draws on the work of more than 35 of the Post’s newsroom across Hong Kong, Beijing, Washington and Singapore–a team with unmatched access to all sides of the conflict.

Hong Kong was in retrospect ripe to be the laboratory for a new-age protest movement, fueled by profound angst about the place of millennial youth in society, widening income inequality, and the speed of digital communications. The anti-extradition bill protests that morphed rapidly into a wider anti-government movement in 2019 left no aspect of the city untouched, from its social compact to its body politic to its open economy. Against the backdrop of the “one country, two systems” model and its growing ambiguities, SCMP’s reporting team took a contemplative look back at Hong Kong in Rebel City on its most wrenching political crisis since its return to Chinese rule in 1997.

“The book is a non-partisan account of the events of 2019 and a fact-based attempt to explain all the contradictions, nuances and complexities of the anti-government protest movement triggered by the ill-fated extradition bill. Rebel City encapsulates the blood, sweat and tears of a world city at a crossroads that, and is still impacted by those events today. I’m proud of what this book represents and our team’s contribution in covering one of the biggest social and political upheavals of our times,” said Tammy Tam, Editor in Chief, South China Morning Post.

“We are grateful to our newsmakers and sources on all sides of this complex story. The events of 2019 produced many conflicting narratives and shades of grey, and it was important to hear the voices of all who were impacted. No one has emerged from it unscathed. This book would not have been possible if they were not willing to share their perspectives so generously,” said Zuraidah.

“This insightful book provides a holistic array of differing perspectives during one of Hong Kong’s most turbulent times in recent history as the world witnessed the series of events unfold before its eyes. World Scientific is privileged to be a part of this book project that brings about first-hand accounts of different encounters from within the city,” said Max Phua, Managing Director, World Scientific.

Rebel City retails for US$28 / £22 / S$28 / HKD$198 in paperback and US$68 / £60 / S$68 in hardback (before taxes, where applicable) at major bookstores, distributors and online. SCMP readers may order a copy on More details about the book can be found at

Individuals may also purchase electronic editions through Kindle, Kobo, Google Play and

Advance Praise for “Rebel City”

“This excellent book is an inspiring reminder of the vital importance of a free press in any society that is struggling with difficult social and political problems. Throughout 2019, international observers relied on the South China Morning Post to reveal the full complexity of the Hong Kong situation. This book provides a chance for readers to reflect on what happened, and draw lessons for the future.”

Kurt Tong, former United States Consul General to Hong Kong and Partner of The Asia Group

“As mentioned in this book, the protests in Hong Kong against the extradition bill of 2019 were ‘among the world’s most visible political events in history’. Like the 2003 protest against the national security bill and the ‘Umbrella movement’ of 2014, the 2019 movement was a watershed moment that raised fundamental questions about the future of ‘one country, two systems’. This book, written by South China Morning Post journalists who eyewitnessed the turmoil is an indispensable guide for anyone who wants to know what happened and to understand why.”

Albert H.Y. Chen, Cheng Chan Lan Yue Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Hong Kong, and member of the Basic Law Committee

“2019 was a turbulent and tumultuous year for Hong Kong. Events followed fast upon each other. This collection of stories, interviews and analysis by seasoned reporters from the South China Morning Post performs the crucial service of recording what happened, asking why it happened, and, most important of all, not rushing to any quick conclusions. A powerful, and at times moving, account of a city under siege, but trying to find its way.”

Kerry Brown, Director, Lau China Institute, King’s College London

“One of the British Prime Ministers once complained of bias in the media and he was asked in which direction, and he said it’s biased in every direction.” – Chris Patten. The events in 2019 shocked and polarized Hong Kong. A fearless and vibrant press is indispensable in such times. It is the price to pay for a free and pluralistic society that the press provokes disagreement, irritates, or even occasionally gets it wrong. The pieces in this volume will not – and are not designed to – please everybody. This is in the best traditions of the Post – long may it continue. I congratulate the Post for a job well done.”

Paul Shieh SC, former Chairman, Hong Kong Bar Association

About the South China Morning Post

The South China Morning Post is a leading global news media company that has reported on China and Asia for more than a century. Founded in 1903, SCMP is headquartered in Hong Kong and is the city’s newspaper of record. To serve its global readership, its network of correspondents spans across Asia and the U.S. reporting on issues relevant to its mission, which is to lead the global conversation about China. Its digital reach makes it one of the region’s biggest publications, providing readers with accurate, credible and compelling content. SCMP became the first news organization in Asia to join the Trust Project in 2020, a consortium of top news companies developing global transparency standards for credible journalism.

For more information, contact Andrea Leung at [email protected]

About World Scientific Publishing Co.

World Scientific Publishing is a leading international independent publisher of books and journals for the scholarly, research and professional communities. World Scientific has published for luminaries that include both former Prime Ministers of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong, former ministers and senior civil servants of the likes of George Yeo, Ho Peng Kee, Lim Siong Guan, Tommy Koh, Peter Ho, and Bilahari Kausikan, and prominent public figures like Ho Kwon Ping, Claire Chiang, Albert Hong, Liu Thai Ker, and Wang Gungwu, amongst others.

World Scientific also collaborates extensively with research institutes, universities, governmental organisations and companies locally as well as globally to publish professional, scientific, technical, medical and popular content. The company publishes about 600 books annually and 150 journals in various fields, and has also established a global presence with 13 offices around the world. To find out more about World Scientific, visit

For more information, contact Amanda Yun at [email protected]

About the Editors

Zuraidah Ibrahim is Deputy Executive Editor of the South China Morning Post, overseeing local Hong Kong coverage and Asia and International news. Previously the deputy editor of The Straits Times in Singapore, she was a key author of the bestselling memoir Lee Kuan Yew, Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going (2011). Her most recent publication is The Opposition in Singapore (2017).

Jeffie Lam is a correspondent and leads the Hong Kong politics team at the South China Morning Post. An award-winning political journalist, she started her career as a reporter in 2009 and joined the Post in 2013, covering the city’s legislative affairs, social movements and party politics. Jeffie reported on the Occupy movement in 2014 and the protests of 2019.


Media Contact
Amanda Yun
[email protected]

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