This article aims to identify the causes that underlie the mass participation in anti-authoritarian protests of Hong Kong in 2019. The research draws from the perceived performance approach and social learning approach and uses survey data to explain the mass participation. Four variables regarding perceived political performance, rather than perceived economic performance, are found to exert a causal effect on individuals’ decisions to participate in mass protests. These perceived political performance variables include mass dissatisfaction with Hong Kong’s lack of democracy and the police’s performance. Thus, an attempt to stifle the demonstrations by offering merely economic incentives will not suffice. In light of the social learning approach, the younger and more educated people in Hong Kong are found to be more supportive of the protests. The findings highlight the failure of the authoritarian government in China to earn the political trust of the younger and more educated generation in Hong Kong. This article concludes by drawing attention to the dim prospects for Hong Kong’s political stability and prosperity.

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