- The demonstrations marked 23 years since the transfer of sovereignty from Britain to China.
- The first person arrested reportedly carried a poster with the slogan “Independence for Hong Kong,” written in both Chinese and English.
- The government of Macau has expressed “strong support” for the national security law.
Hong Kong police today arrested at least 370 demonstrators on various charges, including ten on accusations of violating the newly enacted national security law. The protest demonstrations brought together thousands of demonstrators in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The demonstrations marked 23 years since the transfer of sovereignty (July 1 , 1997) from Britain to China. They were in protest of the new national security law, passed Tuesday by Beijing’s National People’s Congress.
The detained protesters were accused of participating in unauthorized demonstrations, disturbing public order, possession of dangerous weapons, among other offenses, as reported by the territory’s police via the social network, Twitter.
Earlier, the Hong Kong police reported the first arrest for violating the new legislation, which was enacted yesterday by the Chinese head of state, Xi Jinping. The accused reportedly carried a poster with the slogan “Independence for Hong Kong,” written in both Chinese and English.
Today, a strong police force was pesent all over the streets of Hong Kong as the region celebrated events that mark each year the date of transfer of the former British colony to China. For the first time, parades and demonstrations on July 1 were banned by the authorities.
For Hong Kong’s opposition, the new legislation constitutes a serious setback in terms of rights, freedoms, and guarantees. During the demonstrations, the Hong Kong police fired tear gas, pepper balls, rubber bullets and used water cannons to disperse the crowds of protesters.
A truck, equipped with a water cannon, fired several jets that were mixed with an irritating pepper solution, repeatedly hitting protesters and journalists, who were gathered in Causeway Bay, in the city center.
However, the government of the People’s Republic of China remains adamant, and insists that the newly enacted controversial Hong Kong national security law will only strengthen “one country, two systems,” and ensure prosperity and stability in the region.
The deputy director of the Beijing Liaison Office in Hong Kong, Zhang Xiaoming, said that the legislation is the second most important, after the Basic Law [the mini-constitution of the city], and is a milestone in the central government’s policy towards Hong Kong.
Likewise, the government of Macau, another Chinese Special Administrative Region, has expressed “strong support” for the national security law approved by Beijing for Hong Kong. Macao considers that “it is extremely important for Hong Kong’s social stability”.
The statement from the government, led by Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng, read in part:
“Safeguarding national security guarantees the country’s long-term stability, as well as the prosperity and stability of the two special administrative regions, and is therefore a natural requirement, covering the duties of all Chinese people, including the compatriots of Hong Kong and Macau.”