Hong Kong police fired water cannon on Wednesday to break up the first protest since China introduced sweeping security legislation and they made their first arrests under it, warning of punishment for advocating secession or subversion.
It has now been made illegal to protest in Hong Kong, those arrested could be given a life sentence. https://t.co/FWBYztXM4A— Chaneil James (@Chaneil_James) July 1, 2020
“You are displaying flags or banners/chanting slogans/or conducting yourselves with an intent such as secession or subversion, which may constitute offences under the ... national security law,” police said in a message displayed on a purple banner.
The law will punish crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison and officially set up mainland security agencies in Hong Kong for the first time, with powers beyond city laws.
China's parliament adopted it in response to months of pro-democracy protests last year triggered by fears that Beijing was stifling the city's freedoms, guaranteed by a “one country, two systems” formula agreed when it returned to Chinese rule.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few “troublemakers” and will not affect rights and freedoms, nor investor interests.
But critics fear it will crush the freedoms that are seen as key to Hong Kong's success as a financial center.