Hong Kong Security Police Chiefs Warn of Rise in “Terrorism” as National Laws Loom

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong security and police chiefs said “terrorism” was growing in the city, as government departments rallied around Beijing’s plans to introduce laws on Monday. national security after thousands took to the streets to protest the move.

A masked anti-government protester holds a flag supporting Hong Kong independence during a march against Beijing’s plan to impose national security legislation in Hong Kong, China on May 24, 2020. REUTERS / Tyrone Siu

Security legislation, which could see Chinese intelligence agencies setting up bases in Hong Kong and aimed at combating secession, subversion and terrorist activity, has sent shockwaves through business and diplomatic circles.

“Terrorism is growing in the city and activities that undermine national security, such as ‘Hong Kong independence’, are becoming more endemic,” Security Secretary John Lee said in a statement.

“In just a few months, Hong Kong has gone from one of the safest cities in the world to a city plunged into the shadow of violence,” he said, adding that national security laws were in place. necessary to protect the prosperity and stability of the city.

Police said they arrested more than 180 people on Sunday, when authorities fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse anti-government protesters as unrest returned to the Chinese-controlled city after months of relative calm.

Police Commissioner Chris Tang said there had been 14 cases involving explosives “commonly used in terrorist attacks abroad” and five seizures of firearms and ammunition since the protests began in June. Last year.

The bill “will help combat the strength of ‘Hong Kong independence’ and restore social order. The police fully support him, ”Tang said.

In a comeback from the unrest that rocked Hong Kong last year, crowds took to the city streets on Sunday in defiance of restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus, with chants of “Hong Kong independence the only way out “echoing in the streets.

Calls for independence are anathema to Beijing, which sees Hong Kong as an inalienable part of the country. The proposed new national security framework underscores Beijing’s intention to “prevent, stop and punish” such acts.

Protests are set to resume on Wednesday, when the city’s legislature is expected to give a second reading of a bill that would criminalize abuse of the Chinese national anthem.

Agencies issuing statements in support of the legislation included the Commissioner of Corrections, Hong Kong Customs, the Fire Department and the Government Flying Service.

“MISUNDERSTANDING”

Finance Secretary Paul Chan wrote on his blog on Sunday that the national security law “by itself” does not affect investor confidence, only “misunderstanding” does.

“The central government has already stated that the law targets the minority of those suspected of threatening national security and would not affect the rights of the general public. “

The United States, Australia, Britain, Canada and others have expressed concerns over the legislation, widely seen as a potential turning point for China’s freest city and one of the main financial centers of the world.

Taiwan, which has become a haven for a small but growing number of pro-democracy protesters fleeing Hong Kong, will provide the people of Hong Kong with “the necessary assistance,” said President Tsai Ing-wen.

Nearly 200 political figures from around the world have denounced the legislation. Bankers and headhunters have said the legislation could lead to the outflow of money and talent from the city.

The Hong Kong stock exchange added a 1% drop to the 5.6% drop on Friday when the new security plan was unveiled by Beijing and the Hong Kong dollar hovered around its lowest since March.

In a statement on Sunday evening, a Hong Kong government spokesperson said the vast majority of residents and foreign investors “had nothing to fear” from the new security legislation and were responding to criticism of the foreigner.

“Sadly, and perhaps revealing, those who claim to act in the best interests of Hong Kong turn a blind eye to explosives, Molotov cocktails, firearms, weapons, attacks on passers-by, gratuitous vandalism, online trolling and disinformation campaigns used by radical protesters and their hidden masters to stir up fear and chaos and destabilize society, ”he said.

Written by Anne Marie Roantree and Marius Zaharia; Editing by Michael Perry

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