Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed China’s new security law as a “contravention” of Hong Kong’s constitution.
“…the rule of law has been eviscerated, and as always, the Chinese Communist Party is afraid of its own people above all else.” He added that the law could compromise the security of foreigners in Hong Kong, including Americans who live and work there, by making them technically liable for prosecution by a Chinese ‘rule-by-law’ not ‘rule-of-law’ court.
According to Reuters, the number of Hong Kongers arrested during Wednesday’s protest has climbed to roughly 200, up from the 2 arrests we reported earlier.
Police arrested nearly 200 people on Wednesday as protesters took to the streets in defiance of sweeping security legislation, the details of which were revealed late last night as President Xi signed it into law. Wednesday’s gathering happens to coincide with an annual rally marking the anniversary of HK’s handover to China in 1997, a fitting backdrop as Hong Kongers express their preference for the values of the British.
Officials had cancelled the annual rally due to the coronavirus, but tens of thousands came out anyway, including thousands of young people and students.
“I’m scared of going to jail but for justice I have to come out today, I have to stand up,” said one 35-year-old man who gave his name as Seth.
Earlier on Wednesday, police cited the law for the first time as they confronted the protesters.
“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.
Police shared photos with an officer with a bleeding arm saying he was stabbed by “rioters holding sharp objects.”
Meanwhile, in Beijing, Zhang Xiaoming, executive deputy director of Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, told reporters that the suspects arrest today could be tried on the mainland (though he stopped short of declaring that this would definitely happen). He also described the new security law as a “birthday gift” to Hong Kong.
The unrest came after the passing of Beijing’s national security law for the city.
Critics say the legislation, which criminalises secession, subversion, foreign interference and terrorism, will gag the city’s remaining freedoms and stomp out political dissent.
Crowds defied public gathering warnings and took to the streets from early Wednesday afternoon, with pockets of unrest springing up across Causeway Bay and Wan Chai.