News and Commentary

China Begins Brutal Crackdown Under New Law In Hong Kong, Starts Arresting Those Calling For Freedom
Chinese soldiers carry the flags of (L to R) the Communist Party, the state, and the People's Liberation Army during a military parade at the Zhurihe training base in China's northern Inner Mongolia region on July 30, 2017. China held a parade of its armed forces on July 30 to mark the 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in a display of military might.
STR/AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began cracking down on Hong Kong protesters on Wednesday after China’s government imposed a new national security law that cemented Beijing’s control over the city.

On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed into a law a bill banning acts of sedition, subversion, and terrorism, a bill passed by China’s top legislative body by a vote of 162-0. Violating the new law could result in a sentence of life in prison.

In response, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong.

“Hundreds turned out to protest the legislation in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay but were met with a heavy security presence,” CNN reported. “Riot police fired pepper spray into the crowd, kettled and dispersed protesters, and deployed water cannons.”

The Hong Kong Police Force touted the first arrests under the new laws, tweeted out photographs and writing: “A man was arrested for holding a #HKIndependence flag in #CausewayBay, Hong Kong, violating the #NationalSecurityLaw. This is the first arrest made since the law has come into force.”

The man who was arrested appears to have simply been carrying a flag that stated: “Hong Kong Independence.”

The Hong Kong Police Force later announced a second arrest under the new national security law after a woman was caught carrying a sign that stated: “Hong Kong Independence.”

“#NationalSecurityLaw in effect. #HKPolice further arrested a female for showing a material with #HKIndependence slogan in #CausewayBay, Hong Kong,” the police force wrote. “#HKPolice will take resolute enforcement action in accordance with #NSL.”

The Hong Kong Police Force later warned those who were waving a purple flag that warned others of the new draconian law that they may also be arrested.

According to police, at least 70 protesters were arrested Wednesday.

The New York Times highlighted how the new national security law allows China to suppress Hong Kong’s growing protest movement and to expand its national security apparatus “to pervade many layers of Hong Kong’s society”:

Ambiguously worded offenses of separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign countries carry maximum penalties of life imprisonment. Inducing residents to hate the government in Beijing or Hong Kong is defined as a serious crime.

A new Committee for Safeguarding National Security will be authorized to operate in total secrecy and be shielded from legal challenges. Its officials will be given the task of scrutinizing schools, corporations, nongovernmental organizations, news companies, and foreigners living in Hong Kong and abroad.

Numerous U.S. officials spoke out against the new Chinese law, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who wrote on Twitter: “The CCP’s draconian national security law ends free Hong Kong and exposes the Party’s greatest fear: the free will and free thinking of its own people.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted: “More disastrous steps by Beijing to tighten their grip on Hong Kong. Congress and the Administration have taken strong steps to stand with Hong Kong. We need to keep it up and friends of democracy around the world should join us.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted: “The brutal purpose of Beijing’s so-called ‘national security’ law is to frighten, intimidate & suppress the speech of Hong Kongers. All freedom-loving people must come together to condemn this law, which signals the death of the “one country, two systems” principle.”

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