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Protesters in Hong Kong met with tear gas and water cannons Sunday

PHOTO CREDITS: ANTHONY KWAN/GETTY IMAGES 

According to the South China Morning Post, protesters in Hong Kong were met with tear gas and water cannons on Sunday after thousands took to the streets to oppose Beijing’s planned national security law for the city, which opponents say would threaten the autonomy and civil liberties of Hong Kong. Protesters began to gather around midday Sunday in the Causeway Bay shopping district, where efforts to deem the march a “health talk” were unsuccessful and police quickly declared the protest illegal. Local police say at least 180 people were arrested, mostly on “suspicion of unauthorised assembly, unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct in a public place,” (SCMP). As police continued to disperse crowds, a water cannon truck and volleys of tear gas were used by police in a series of confrontations with protesters. ~

Bypassing the legislature of Hong Kong, the controversial national security bill was put forward last Thursday by China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC). The security bill would reportedly ban “treason, secession, sedition and subversion” in the city of Hong Kong, and enable mainland Chinese national security agencies to operate in the city for the first time (CNN). China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, showed his support for the new security bill, stating that it should be passed “without the slightest delay,” (BBC). Furthermore, Hong Kong’s security chief, John Lee, stated that the law is needed to tackle “growing terrorism,” and that Sunday’s protests proved “the need and urgency of the decision to be deliberated by the NPC” to ensure Hong Kong’s “long-term prosperity and stability,” (BBC). Opponents of the bill, however, say that it is just a measure by the Chinese government to silence sedition, and challenges the civil liberties guaranteed to the citizens of Hong Kong in its de facto constitution and in international treaties (WSJ). ~

According to the Hindustan Times, a group of over 200 senior politicians from 23 nations have issued a joint statement criticizing China’s plan. Along with the UK, Canada, and Australia, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also condemned the plans, calling them a “death knell” for the city’s freedoms. ~

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