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Hong Kong – the end of peaceful protest?

Hong Kong – Anti-Protest Laws

In March 2019 protests began in Hong Kong after the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders Bill by the Hong Kong Government which would have allowed extradition of people to jurisdictions that Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with. This would mean people could be extradited to mainland China and Taiwan and be subject to Chinese law, which would undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy (independence) and infringe civil liberties of its citizens.

The bill sparked outrage and widespread protests quickly began, with many turning violent. The Bill was eventually receded and has not come into effect, but protests continued against police brutality and the tactics used by the state to try and stop protest (whether peaceful or not). 

Protests intensified once again when on 21st May 2020, the government announced a new law that would cover ‘secession, foreign interference, terrorism and subversion against the central government’. This law bypassed usual legislation procedures and was made law on the 28th May 2020. Globally, this has been viewed as a step in China taking control of Hong Kong. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress that Hong Kong was no longer autonomous and would now be considered the same as China in terms of trade and other matters. 

A crucial aspect of the new law, allows police to arrest people who are seen to be breaching national security and to ban protests and gathering. On July 1st annual protests took place despite the ban, with police using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds. At least ten people were arrested for breaching national security because they were found to have flags, placards, phone stickers and any other artwork that was deemed to be protest art. This has effectively ended peaceful campaigning, as well as protest gatherings.

Images: Protests in Hong Kong. Credit: Studio Incendo (used under Creative Commons license)