Hundreds protest in Hong Kong after China’s security law plan
Protesters gesture with 5 fingers, signifying ‘5 demands – not 1 less” during a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong
HONG KONG: Police fired tear gas and pepper spray at hundreds of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters who gathered Sunday in opposition to a controversial security law proposed by China last week.
The proposal is expected to ban treason, subversion and sedition, and comes after Hong Kong was shaken by months of massive, sometimes violent anti-government protests, and repeated warnings from Beijing that it would not tolerate dissent.
Fearing the proposed law will spell the end of the city’s treasured freedoms, campaigners called for supporters to rally and hundreds responded, gathering in the busy Causeway Bay and Wan Chai districts, chanting slogans against the government as riot police warned them against the assembly.
“People may be criminalised only for words they say or publish opposing the government,” 25-year-old protester Vincent told AFP.
“I think Hongkongers are very frustrated because we didn’t expect this to come so fast and so rough. But… we won’t be as naive as to believe that Beijing will simply sit back and do nothing. Things will only get worse here.”
Riot police were deployed after earlier warnings from authorities against unauthorised assembly and the city’s current coronavirus-linked law banning public gatherings of more than eight people.
The Sunday protest followed a similar pattern to many of last year’s demonstrations, with police firing tear gas and pepper spray, and protesters pushing back – some throwing objects such as umbrellas at the police.
The Hong Kong pro-democracy movement had previously fizzled as arrests mounted and, later, large gatherings were banned to stop the coronavirus.
More than 8,300 people have been arrested since the protests erupted last year. Around 200 were detained during small rallies at malls on Mother’s Day earlier this month.
Police had warned that they would “make arrests as appropriate”, and at least one pro-democracy campaigner was detained by police on Sunday at the start of the rally, AFP reporters said.
Hong Kong residents enjoy rights – including freedom of speech – unseen on the mainland as part of the agreement that saw the British colony handed back to China in 1997, and the city has its own legal system and trade status.
Fears had been growing for years that Beijing was chipping away at those freedoms and tightening its control on the city, and campaigners have described the new proposal as the most brazen move yet.
Of particular concern is a provision allowing Chinese security agents to operate in Hong Kong, and that they could launch a crackdown against those dissenting against the mainland’s Communist rulers.
“I’m very scared, but I still have to come out,” said protester Christy Chan, 23.
“Aside from being peaceful, rational and non-violent, I don’t see many ways to send out our messages.”
A top pro-Beijing official, however, claimed on Saturday that mainland law enforcement would not operate in Hong Kong without “approval” from local authorities.
“I’m not worried about anybody being arrested by a police officer from the mainland and then taken back to China for investigation or punishment,” Maria Tam, a Hong Kong law advisor to the Chinese parliament, told AFP.
“It is not, not, not going to happen.”
Hong Kong’s unpopular pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam has defended the new proposal, saying it was necessary to protect national security and punish “violent political elements”.
But there is deep mistrust of China’s opaque legal system in Hong Kong and of how Beijing might use such regulations in the city – the massive protests last year were sparked by a now-scrapped bill that would have allowed extraditions to the mainland.
The new proposal could prove even more wide-ranging than that plan, and several Western governments have voiced alarm.
China’s legislature is expected to rubber-stamp the draft resolution on Thursday, the last day of the annual parliamentary gathering, before the details are fleshed out at another meeting at a later date.
Officials have said the law would then be implemented locally.
The 2019–20 Hong Kong protests are a series of ongoing protests which were triggered by the Hong Kong government's introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill.
Had it been enacted, the bill would have allowed the extradition of wanted criminal suspects and criminal fugitives to territories with which Hong Kong does not currently have extradition agreements, including Mainland China and Taiwan.
This led to concerns that the bill would subject Hong Kong residents and visitors to the jurisdiction and legal system of Mainland China, thereby undermining Hong Kong's autonomy and civil liberties, and infringe on privacy and freedom of speech laws.
As the protests progressed, the protesters laid out five key demands, namely:
(i) the withdrawal of the bill, [kt note: officially withdrawn on 23 October 2019]
(ii) an investigation into alleged police brutality and misconduct,
kt note: still possible but hardly likely if violent protests continue. Does anyone for a moment believe the Chinese government will give way to a bunch of young unruly brats, even with sinister backing from the US government?
(iii) the release of all arrested protesters,
kt note: wakakaka, some protesters burnt malls, shops, damaged train stations, shot arrows and threw/catapulted stones at and attacked police - release those thugs?
(iv) a retraction of the official characterisation of the protests as "riots"
kt note: wakakaka, a riot with violence, arson, destruction of properties, and attacks on police would in any language be still a RIOT, and
(v) Chief Executive Carrie Lam's resignation along with the introduction of universal suffrage for election of the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive
kt note: unlikely as Beijing which is the sovereign authority over its possession Hong Kong, a mere SAR, won't give in to demands of violent protests as that sets a bad precedence; ...
... also Chapter 1, Article 5 of the Hong Kong basic Law, the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), reads:
The socialist system and policies shall not be practiced in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years.
Question: Did the previous capitalist system and way of life (ie. under British colonialism) ever enjoy universal suffrage for election of its British Governor-General?
Kerbau lah. Thus, as we can see, those HK-ie brats are greedily going way beyond the agreed 'one nation, two systems' principle signed between China and Britain.
For their imbecilic mentality I blame Chris Patten for giving those Hongkie brats the false impression Hong Kong could strive for democratic and sovereign rule from China - as we all know, Patten's motive was to convince those gullible Hongkies to continue staying on in a future "democratic sovereign" Hong Kong, without the need to rush away in fear to Britain whose citizenship 7 million of the Hongkies held.
While the British government dreaded the influx into Britain of 7 million of their citizens but all with slanted eyes and yellow skin, the Hongkies OTOH also preferred to continue to maintain their great lifestyle in Hong Kong. Hence Chris Patten's seductive sinister sleazy ideologue found traction with the Hongkie guppies.
But consider, under 156 years of British colonial rule, those Hongkies were just colonial 2nd class citizens, LITERALLY! There were positions, clubs and institutions denied to Chinese Hongkies. What democratic sovereign rights did they enjoy under British rule? How sad those brats believe in Patten's kerbau, but as mentioned, as 'willing captives'.
Since 01 July 1997 those Hongkies have enjoyed all the rights and privileges previously denied to them by the British. Their irrational enlarging greed, growing from protests against the Extradition Bill into calls for freedom, independence & HK sovereignty, reminds me of a tale by Aesop, as follows:
A Dog, crossing a bridge over a stream with a piece of flesh in his mouth, saw his own shadow in the water and took it for that of another Dog, with a piece of meat double his own in size. He immediately let go of his own, and fiercely attacked the other Dog to get his larger piece from him. He thus lost both: that which he grasped at in the water, because it was a shadow; and his own, because the stream swept it away.
Moral - If you covet all, you may lose all.
Instead of enjoying their rights and privileges under the 'one nation, two systems' framework, which were far more than what Mainlanders enjoy, they thought of being clever and went for broke, and indeed they'll be broken. No point in crying over split milk.