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Teargas fired, 100’s held, as 1000’s protest China’s proposed national security law for Hong Kong

Police in Hong Kong have arrested hundreds of people on May 24 after thousands took to the streets to protest against a resolution for a national security law. (Photo courtesy: SCMP)

(TibetanReview.net, May25’20) – Police in Hong Kong have arrested hundreds of people on May 24 after thousands took to the streets to protest against a resolution for a national security law for the special administrative region was introduced in the ongoing session of the Chinese National People’s Congress in Beijing. The proposed law is seen as a naked violation of Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” special status which China is legally committed to abide by.

Police fired multiple rounds of tear gas in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay shopping district as thousands took to the streets to protest against Beijing’s planned national security law for the city even as top Chinese officials sought to ease fears about its impact on local freedoms but remained stern about seeing it implemented, reported scmp.com May 24.

The report cited police as saying at least 180 people were arrested – mostly on suspicion of unauthorised assembly, unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct in a public place – in a crackdown as protesters spread out along streets of Causeway Bay and Wan Chai.

The report said a water cannon truck was used and volleys of teargas were fired in a series of confrontations as some radicals among the protesters defying the government’s coronavirus crowd restrictions blocked multiple roads, smashed traffic lights, lit small fires and hurled bricks dug up from pavements at police.

Police were reported to have also fired pepper balls at one group on Gloucester Road, accusing “rioters” of “causing serious obstruction to road traffic” and rampaging “through passing vehicles, posing serious threat to public safety”.

Ten people were reported to have been admitted to hospital, including a 51-year-old woman in critical condition.

***

“There may be little we can do, but we still have to come out irrespective of the outcome,” Student activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung, who was at the scene early on, was quoted as saying.

He has said he planned to continue lobbying for support from other countries, even if that meant falling afoul of the looming national security law.

The report said the protests erupted just hours after Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng, Beijing’s top leader in charge of Hong Kong, told local delegates to the national legislature that Beijing’s determination to push through the national security law should not be underestimated, and that mainland authorities would “implement it till the end”.

At the ongoing National People’s Congress session in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi sought to ease concerns about the new law, saying it would not damage the city’s autonomy or freedoms. He has said the proposed legislation was aimed only at a “very narrow category of acts that seriously jeopardise national security”, such as “treason, secession, sedition or subversion.”

The resolution for drafting the new law is expected to be passed on May 28, authorising the NPC Standing Committee, the country’s top legislative body, to craft a tailor-made national security law and impose it on Hong Kong, bypassing the city’s legislature.

***

More than 200 parliamentarians and policymakers from 23 countries have issued a joint statement, condemning China’s move.

Besides, foreign ministers of Britain, Australia and Canada had also issued a joint statement, stressing the Sino-British Joint Declaration – the agreement signed by Britain and China in 1984 that paved the way for Hong Kong’s handover – remained legally binding. The European Union also called for the need to preserve the city’s autonomy.

The new law will bypass the city’s legislature and require the Hong Kong government to set up new institutions to safeguard Chinese sovereignty and allow the mainland’s agencies to operate in the city when needed.

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