Hong Kong police mark foremost arrest under the new 'anti-protest' law in Beijing

Hong Kong police mark foremost arrest under the new 'anti-protest' law in Beijing

Hong Kong police mark foremost arrest under the new 'anti-protest' law in Beijing
The Hong Kong police marked foremost arrest under the new 'anti-protest' law in Beijing. The national security law targets secession, subversion and terrorism with punishments up to life in prison. Nine people were held accused of violating the law, including a man with a pro-independence flag. More than 300 others were detained at a banned rally.

Activists say it erodes freedoms but China has dismissed the criticism. Hong Kong's sovereignty was handed back to China by Britain in 1997 and certain rights were supposed to be guaranteed for at least 50 years under the "one country, two systems" agreement. The UK has now said up to three million Hong Kong residents will be offered the chance to settle in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship.

On Wednesday, thousands gathered for the annual pro-democracy rally to mark the anniversary, defying a ban by authorities who cited restrictions on gatherings of more than 50 people because of Covid-19. Police used water cannon, tear gas and pepper spray on demonstrators. They said more than 300 people had been arrested, nine under the new law, which was adopted in the wake of last year's widespread unrest.
They included a man who was holding a "Hong Kong Independence" flag, though some Twitter users said the picture appeared to show a small "no to" written in front of the slogan. The man has not been identified, and it was not clear whether he would be prosecuted.

Police also said an officer was stabbed in the arm by "rioters holding sharp objects". The suspects fled and bystanders offered no help, they said.The legislation has been widely condemned by countries including the US and UK as well as human rights activists. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: "[China] promised 50 years of freedom to the Hong Kong people, and gave them only 23."
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian urged countries to look at the situation objectively and said China would not allow foreign interference in its domestic affairs. Earlier, Zhang Xiaming of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office of the State Council bristled at foreign critics, asking them: "What's this got to do with you?"

Speaking in the House of Commons, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the measures a "flagrant assault" on freedoms of speech and protest, saying China had "broken" its international obligations.Meanwhile, the UK has updated its travel advice on Hong Kong, saying there is an "increased risk of detention, and deportation for a non-permanent resident" due to the new law.