Protesters have hit the streets once again in Hong Kong as China’s new national security law for the region has officially come into effect.
The law was approved by China’s rubber-stamp congress in May, effectively bypassing Hong Kong’s own legislature in the process.
Details of the law were finally revealed on Tuesday, they prescribe penalties including life imprisonment for the crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces in Hong Kong. They appear to apply for everyone, not only Hong Kong residents.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has called the new security laws the “most important development in relations between the central government and Hong Kong since the handover.”
Their implementation comes on the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China. Demonstrators have marked the day by defying protest bans and gathering together on streets around Causeway Bay while facing down large contingents of riot police who have fired pepper spray into the crowds.
We are on street to against national security law. We shall never surrender. Now is not the time to give up. pic.twitter.com/E1mDMvtycc
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 😷 (@joshuawongcf) July 1, 2020
— James Pomfret (@jamespomfret) July 1, 2020
HKers on the streets again to show what they think of the National Security Law, defiant even as they face the risk of heavy jail terms. This was at Times Square in Causeway Bay pic.twitter.com/gpsZppAlZO
— Linda Lew 刘凌达 (@Lindadalew) July 1, 2020
Officers fire pepper balls at people gathered in Causeway Bay to show their anger at the new national security law.
Video: SCMP/Zoe Low pic.twitter.com/89QNGgPafu
— SCMP Hong Kong (@SCMPHongKong) July 1, 2020
#LIVE: It is Hong Kong’s historic moment. As police raise this flag indicating protesters could be arrested for secession/subversion under the new national security law, the city is experiencing a new era where speech can be criminalised/even sentenced for life. #HongKongProtests pic.twitter.com/kFjt6mi2lx
— Ezra Cheung (@ezracheungtoto) July 1, 2020
#breaking Hong Kong police have just fired pepper spray into a crowd that is assembled in Causeway Bay. Journalist @chermainelee22 who is on our @cnn team, was hit. I know from experience, it feels absolutely dreadful. But she’ll be ok. pic.twitter.com/PmiDXdmpk3
— Will Ripley (@willripleyCNN) July 1, 2020
Police have already announced the first arrest under the new rules in the form of a man with a “Hong Kong Independence” flag.
#BREAKING: A man was arrested for holding a #HKIndependence flag in #CausewayBay, Hong Kong, violating the #NationalSecurityLaw. This is the first arrest made since the law has come into force. pic.twitter.com/C0ezm3SGDm
— Hong Kong Police Force (@hkpoliceforce) July 1, 2020
However, a closer inspection reveals that the flag actually says “no to” in tiny text in front of “Hong Kong Independence.”
It’s unclear how the new national security will deal with this distinction. The man faces up to three years in prison.
People are pointing out that the flag appears to say, in tiny print, “no to” before “Hong Kong independence” and “不要” before “香港獨立.” Could make for a crazy test case https://t.co/HWjP4luZfV
— Austin Ramzy (@austinramzy) July 1, 2020
Meanwhile, back in Beijing, government representatives have confirmed that suspects detained by China’s newly established security office in Hong Kong can be taken back to the mainland for trial if the cases meet certain criteria or complexity.