Teenage arrests, blank protest signs, and a key election postponed: What one month of China’s new national security law for Hong Kong has looked like

Visitors walk along a viewing platform on Victoria Peak in Hong Kong on July 28, 2020. (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP) (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Thursday, July 30, marked one month since China imposed a new national-security law on Hong Kong.
A lot has happened in a very short time.
Vocal activists fled to safety abroad, political organizations disbanded, and pro-democracy candidates were banned from running in September’s legislative election (which was also postponed on Friday).
But pro-democracy activists have vowed to fight on, with some finding new ways to protest without falling afoul of the law, and others planning a parliament in exile.
Elsewhere, China and Britain have exchanged barbs after the UK promised to give 3 million Hong Kongers a path to citizenship.

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Thursday, July 30, marked one month since China’s new national security law came into force in Hong Kong.

From June 30, China has wielded the power to define and punish “separatism, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference” in the city as it sees fit. 

This means that anti-China sentiment — be it waving banners, attending protests, posting on social media, or calling for foreign intervention — is no longer tolerated.

The law effectively marks the end of Hong Kong’s political autonomy from the mainland. The crackdown has been swift and often violent, but pro-democracy activists haven’t lost all hope.

Here’s what’s happened in the month since.

Political groups disbanded as activists fled to safety

Shortly after the law came into force, four major pro-democracy figures — Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, Nathan Law, and Jeffrey Ngo — resigned as leaders of the Demosistō organization, fearing that their titles would see them imprisoned.

Hours later, Demosistō said the entire organization was disbanding. The Hong Kong National Front, another significant pro-independence group, disbanded soon after.

Nathan Law, a local politician and co-founder of Demosistō, announced on July 3 that he had fled Hong Kong. He revealed on July 13 that he was living in London.

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Also in London is Simon Cheng, a campaigner and former British consulate employee in Hong Kong, who was detained for 15 days during a trip to mainland China last year. Cheng said he was tortured by Chinese agents.

Cheng has since announced intentions to set up a parliament-in-exile with other activists who have fled.

“A shadow parliament can send a very clear signal to Beijing,” he told Reuters in early July.

Public libraries in Hong Kong have also removed books written by pro-democracy activists from their shelves and catalogues.

Police used the law to justify arrests right away

On the first day of the national-security law’s existence, 300 protesters were arrested by the Hong Kong police. Nine of the arrests were on suspicion of violating the national security, which forbids secession, the police said. 

The vague wording of the law gives police vast discretion to arrest people. Participating in demonstrations and waving anti-China slogans were good enough reasons for them to detain protesters.

The full text of law was not even made public until several days after it had been passed. 

Leading figures arrested

Four students and activists aged between 16 and 21 were arrested on Thursday for “inciting secession” on …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Politics

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