Hong Kong police arrest 53 rioters during new protest
Police in Hong Kong have arrested 53 rioters during a protest against the passage of a national security bill in the global financial hub.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets and blocked roads in Hong Kong’s Central district on Tuesday evening, one year since often violent protests erupted over another bill.
Police fired pepper spray to disperse the protesters, who had defied a ban on gatherings of more than eight people introduced by the Hong Kong government to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus disease.
“A large group of protesters gathered in Central last night. They blocked roads repeatedly and behaved in a disorderly manner,” police said in a statement early on Wednesday.
A total of 36 males and 17 females were arrested for offenses, including unlawful assembly, police said.
Last month, semi-autonomous Hong Kong’s legislature debated and passed a law that potentially criminalizes sedition, secession, and subversion.
Beijing insists that the new law does not pose a threat to Hong Kong’s autonomy and the interests of foreign investors, noting that it is merely meant to prevent terrorism and foreign interference there, which were evident in the violent riots there against the government last year.
Authorities in Hong Kong have also said there is no cause for concern and the legislation will target a minority of violent rioters.
The details of the security law have yet to be revealed.
Hong Kong had been rocked by turbulent protests since June last year, when the government of the semi-autonomous territory proposed a bill that would have reformed the city’s extradition law. The bill was later withdrawn, but protests continued and took on violent forms.
They largely subsided when the coronavirus pandemic began, but the introduction of the new law has rekindled the protests.
The Chinese government says the United States and Britain fanned the flames of the unrest in Hong Kong by supporting rioters.
Hong Kong has been governed under a “one-country, two-system” model since the city — a former British colony — was returned to China in 1997.
China expresses concern to Japan over prime minister’s remark
Meanwhile, China says it has expressed grave concern to Japan over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent remarks about Hong Kong.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday that Hong Kong was China’s internal affairs and foreign countries did not have a right to interfere.
Hua’s remarks came after Abe said Tokyo wanted to take the lead among the Group of Seven (G7) countries to issue a statement about the situation in Hong Kong.