Thousands of citizens demonstrated today in the streets of Hong Kong to protest the national security law that the Beijing government plans to implement, which would take away liberties from the citizens of the former British colony. The city's police launched tear gas and used water cannons to disperse the protesters who had gathered in the central business district of Causeway Bay, reports the China South Morning Post.
The protesters claim that the government's proposed legislation is a threat to civil liberties and means an end to the principle of "one country, two systems", as well as an attack on the autonomy of the city of Hong Kong. This legislation will prohibit "any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion" against the Central Government, as well as the "theft of state secrets and the organisation of activities in Hong Kong by foreign political organisations".
The so-called national security law is currently being debated in the Chinese National People's Congress (NPC) and will be passed before its conclusion next Thursday. The protesters spread their protests along several of the main arteries of the former colony and blocked some of them with fences and other materials. According to the newspaper, the police had warned those summoned that they would act if the protests were not dissolved, which did not happen, so the charges began.
At least four people were arrested during the clashes, all of whom were dressed in black. There were also numerous searches as the protesters chanted slogans such as "Free Hong Kong. Revolution of Our Time" or held up banners saying "heaven will destroy the Chinese Communist Party". At other points in the protest, U.S. flags and cries for Hong Kong's independence were seen, according to sources, who say the police also fired pepper spray and removed the barricades while arresting an unspecified number of protesters.
The police themselves issued a statement confirming that they had used the "minimum necessary force, including tear gas," as the protesters threw umbrellas and water bottles at them. They also used an armored vehicle and a water cannon driven by members of the police special tactical squad.
The protests in Hong Kong have been going on for several years, although they have increased considerably in recent months and only suffered a lull during the state of alarm declared by Beijing when the pandemic broke out because of COVID-19.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese hands in 1997 after a century and a half of British rule, after London and Beijing signed a joint declaration in 1984 in which the United Kingdom renounced its last Asian colony. The pact esteablished the maintenance of a number of freedoms in that territory for 50 years that are not guaranteed in mainland China.