Hong Kong kicks off for another round of protests against Beijing again after the proposal of introducing a new security law re-surfaced last week. Police fired tear gas and pepper spray at demonstrators on Sunday, as thousands gather in the city.
Background of the Law
Article 23 of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law, says the city must enact national security legislation to prohibit “treason, secession, sedition (and) subversion” against the Chinese government.
It has never been implemented due to public fears it would curtail Hong Kong’s cherished rights, such as freedom of expression and the press.
However, last month Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong, Liaison Office director Luo Huining, said the city urgently needed a new national security law to combat violent protesters and independence advocates.
Last week, in his annual report to the Chinese parliament, Premier Li Keqiang said China will establish a legal system and enforcement mechanisms to ensure national security in Hong Kong and Macau.
According to the legislation, China’s parliament empowers itself to set up the legal framework and implementation mechanism to prevent and punish subversion, terrorism, separatism and foreign interference, “or any acts that severely endanger national security”.
The move has sparked concerns over the fate of the “one country, two systems” formula that has governed Hong Kong since its return to Chinese rule in 1997 and which guarantees the city broad freedoms not seen on the mainland.
An attempt to enact the clause in 2003 was shelved after half a million people took to the streets in protest against it. Then security chief Regina Ip had to resign following the failure.
Calls for Protest
Hong Kong activists has then made online calls for a march against China’s plans.
Jimmy Sham, leader of the Civil Human Rights Front, which organised the million-person rally that kicked off last year’s unrest, appealed Friday for millions to come out on the streets once again.
Videos and photos on social media have showed that Hong Kong police begin firing tear gases at protesters that have gathered in the city.