Thousands are protesting in Hong Kong after Beijing announced last week that they will impose sweeping national security laws over the semi-autonomous territory. The move is a breach of an agreement made with Britain in 1997, in which “China pledged to uphold until 2047 the finance hub’s autonomy on matters such as law, as well as people’s freedom of speech and assembly.” The laws, which incited mass protesting in 2003 when Beijing attempted to implement them, “prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition and subversion” against the Communist government. Since last year, protests have again been erupting over Beijing’s attempted takeover. One Chinese protestor and pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui said, “The arms of tyranny have reached Hong Kong. Darker days are coming.”
Heavy riot police presence before the start of the first major protest against Beijing’s controversial plan to directly impose national security laws in HongKong. #HongKongProstests pic.twitter.com/JsPY46qEqR— Jessie Pang (@JessiePang0125) May 24, 2020
The Trump administration has threatened to impose sanctions and remove special trading privileges granted to the territory, but Xi seems unmoved by international pressure. Alice G. Wells, assistant to the US Secretary of State, stated, “whether it’s in the South China Sea or whether it’s along the border with India, we continue to see provocations and disturbing behavior by China that raises questions about how China seeks to use its growing power.” Robert O’Brien, the US National Security Adviser said in a press conference, “We want good relations with China and the Chinese people. Unfortunately, we’re seeing action after action by the Chinese Communist Party that makes it difficult.” Beijing’s actions have received bi-partisan criticism, with Democrats and Republicans jointly introducing legislation that would impose sanctions on China.
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam is in support of the measures, claiming they will strengthen unity and development.