Hong Kong security chief warns about ‘rising terrorism’ as anti-govt. protesters return to streets
Hong Kong’s security chief has warned about a rise in violence and acts of “terrorism” as protesters defy coronavirus-related curbs and return to the streets to slam mainland China’s proposed anti-sedition laws for the restive territory.
Police fired tear gas and water cannon on Sunday to break up an unauthorized march, which was held in violation of a ban on gatherings of more than eight people amid a coronavirus outbreak.
They said 180 arrests were made during the clashes.
Following months of calm, unrest returned to Hong Kong last week after Beijing announced a plan to introduce new national security laws that are expected to forbid sedition, secession and subversion against the mainland.
It will also pave the way for Chinese national security institutions to operate in the city for the first time since 1997, when Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule. The bill was submitted on Friday to the Chinese parliament — National People’s Congress.
Critics view such a measure as a blow to the semi-autonomous region’s autonomy and civil liberties, but Beijing has assured that the planned security laws target a minority of troublemakers that disregard law and order in Hong Kong.
Reacting to the new wave of unrest, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security John Lee warned in a statement on Monday that “terrorism is growing in the city and activities which harm national security, such as Hong Kong independence, become more rampant.”
Lee defended the mainland’s proposed security bill as a necessary measure to restore peace and stability to the violence-hit financial hub.
“In just a few months, Hong Kong has changed from one of the safest cities in the world to a city shrouded in the shadow of violence,” he said.
Other governmental agencies in Hong Kong issued similar statements in support of the new legislation, including the Commissioner of Correctional Services and Hong Kong Customs office, pointing out the necessity “to prevent, stop and punish” unlawful acts.