First Hong Kong Arrest Made Under New Security Law for Man Holding ‘Independence Flag’

Men are detained by riot police during a march against national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, China, July 1, 2020. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Security forces in Hong Kong made over 180 arrests on the first day after China passed a sweeping new national security law for the island, with at least seven arrests made for offenses created by the new measure, police said.

“Anyone who organises, plans, commits or participates in committing secession or undermining national unification shall be guilty of an offence,” the Hong Kong police warned on Twitter. The first person arrested under the new law — which bans broadly-defined acts of subversion, sedition, terrorism, and collusion — was holding a flag calling for Hong Kong’s independence.

Beijing’s National People’s Congress bypassed Hong Kong’s legislature to implement the law unanimously on Tuesday, with the Chinese Communist Party saying the law is necessary and Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam saying it fills a “gaping hole” following months of unrest and pro-democracy demonstrations on the island.

But critics have warned that the new law signals the end of the “one country, two systems” arrangement between Hong Kong and Beijing. Hong Kong residents have enjoyed more freedoms than counterparts in mainland China since 1997, including the right to assembly, a free press, and an independent judiciary system.

In May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress that the State Department now sees Hong Kong as no longer autonomous under the new measure.

“No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China . . . it is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself,” Pompeo explained.

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