Protesters are back in the street in Hong Kong, after the passage of a new security bill which gives the Chinese government sweeping new powers over the territory. Many citizens are becoming increasingly worried that China will soon be turning the territory into a police state just like the mainland, and have taken to the streets once again to show their opposition to the new law.
The new law effectively bans protests and other forms of activism, and essentially forces the citizens of Hong Kong to be entirely obedient to the government in China. Even supporting or advocating for independence could lead to an arrest. Under the new law, acts of vandalism that take place during a protest could be considered terrorism.
“You are displaying flags or banners/chanting slogans/or conducting yourselves with an intent such as secession or subversion, which may constitute offenses under the national security law,” police said in a message displayed on a purple banner.
This week, hundreds of protesters were arrested after intense clashes with riot police in Hong Kong. One of the protesters reportedly stabbed a police officer in the arm while the officer was attempting to arrest another protester. The Sun reports that a 1-inch gash was left in the officer’s shoulder. The attacker was able to get away before being apprehended.
In a tweet showing pictures of the injuries, the Hong Kong Police Force wrote, “During a #HKProtest, an officer was stabbed in the arm by rioters holding sharp objects when he was taking arrest action. While the by-standers offered no helping hand, suspects fled. #HKPolice express the strongest condemnation against such violent act.”
At least 300 people have already been arrested under the new legislation, all of them in the first day of the protest.
One of the protesters taken into custody was a 15-year-old girl who was also arrested for waving a flag that called for independence.
Meanwhile, Britain has offered to take in up to three million residents from Hong Kong. Considering that Hong Kong is a former British colony, the Chinese government criticized the offer as a provocation. The United States has placed sanctions on China in response to the new security law. The Hong Kong Autonomy Act imposes sanctions on banks that do business with Chinese officials who are involved in cracking down on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, according to BBC. Last year, the US also signed into law the Human Rights and Democracy Act, supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
Carrie Lam, the leader of Hong Kong, who many citizens believe to be a puppet of the Chinese government, has supported the new law, saying that it is necessary to “restore stability” to the territory.
Hong Kong is an extremely important geopolitical location for China. It is the world’s tenth-largest exporter and ninth-largest importer, and home to the second-highest number of billionaires of any city in the world, the highest number of billionaires of any city in Asia, and the largest concentration of ultra-wealthy people of any city in the world.