Hong Kong police yesterday made their first arrests under a new national security legislation imposed a day earlier by China’s central government, detaining at least seven people suspected of breaching it during protests by thousands of people.
One man with a Hong Kong independence flag was arrested at a protest in the territory’s Causeway Bay shopping district, police said.
Police arrested another woman for holding up a sign displaying the British flag and calling for Hong Kong’s independence.
Three other women were detained for possessing items advocating independence.
Further details were not immediately available.
Hong Kong police wrote on Facebook that they arrested more than 180 people on various charges, including unlawful assembly, possession of weapons and breaching the national security legislation.
The arrests came as thousands of people took to the streets in an anti-government protest on the 23rd anniversary of Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997.
For the first time, police banned this year’s annual march.
Protesters shouted slogans, lambasted police, and held up signs condemning the Chinese government and the new security legislation.
The legislation, imposed by China after pro-democracy protests in the territory last year, makes secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities illegal, as well as foreign intervention in the territory’s internal affairs. Any person taking part in secessionist activities, such as shouting slogans or holding up banners and flags calling for the territory’s independence, is contravening the legislation, regardless of whether violence is used.
The most serious offenders, such as those deemed to be the masterminds behind the crimes, could receive a maximum punishment of life in prison. Lesser offenders could receive jail terms of up to three years, short-term detention or restrictions.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) endorsed the new legislation in a speech marking the handover of the territory — officially called the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) — from British colonial rule.
“The enactment of the national law is regarded as the most significant development in the relationship between the central authorities and the HKSAR since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland,” Lam said, following a flag-raising ceremony and the playing of China’s national anthem.
A pro-democracy political party, the League of Social Democrats, organized a protest march during the flag-raising ceremony.
About a dozen participants chanted slogans echoing demands from protesters last year for political reform and an investigation into accusations of police abuse.
Claudia Mo (毛孟靜), an opposition Hong Kong lawmaker, told a news conference that the security legislation does not abide by the rule of law and is a dire warning to the free press.
“This would tell you that they want not just to get us, but to intimidate us into inaction, into a catatonic state,” Mo said.
Meanwhile, British Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Dominic Raab announced that residence rights for Hong Kongers eligible for British National Overseas (BNO) passports would be extended to five years.
Raab told the House of Commons that the new rules would allow more than 3 million Hong Kongers the right to live and work in Britain without the current six-month limit.
After five years in the UK, BNO passport holders could apply for settled status and then apply for citizenship 12 months after that.
Taipei on Friday rejected Hanoi’s characterization of its recent live-fire drill near Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) as “illegal,” saying that Taiwan’s claim to the small island in the South China Sea was “unquestionable.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement that the comments made by its Vietnamese counterpart about the military’s routine live-fire drills near Itu Aba on Tuesday were “unacceptable.” Earlier on Friday, Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang called Taiwan’s military activity “a serious violation of Vietnam’s territorial sovereignty,” saying it had caused tensions and complicated the situation in the region. Hang
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday said it is more than doubling its US investment to US$40 billion as it plans to make 3-nanometer chips in 2026 at a second Arizona fab, adding to the chipmaker’s original plan of building a US$12 billion fab to make 4-nanometer chips in 2024. The investment would mark the largest foreign direct investment in Arizona’s history and one of the largest foreign direct investments in the history of the US, the world’s largest contract chipmaker said in a statement yesterday. In addition to the more than 10,000 construction workers at the site, TSMC’s two fabs
ENHANCEMENT: The sale would update Taiwan’s Patriot missile system to improve its missile defensive capability and deter threats, the US Department of State said The US has proposed selling Taiwan as many as 100 of its most advanced Patriot air-defense missiles along with radar and support equipment in a deal valued at US$882 million, according to a US Department of State notice obtained by Bloomberg News. The proposal was made under the provisions of a 2010 sale and so technically is not new. It is classified as an enhancement to the earlier deal, with a potential total value of US$2.81 billion. The upgrade would not change the overall value of that deal, which infuriated Beijing at the time and led it to halt planned military exchanges
‘UNITED FRONT’ TOOL? There are already many accounts on Douyin impersonating government agencies, and even Premier Su Tseng-chang, DPP Legislator Mark Ho said Lawmakers and a number of experts yesterday called on the government to ban or heavily regulate Douyin (抖音) over concerns that the short-video platform could be used by China to spread disinformation. Owned by ByteDance Ltd (字節跳動), Douyin and its international version, TikTok, are a subject of concern in democracies worldwide because of potential manipulation by the Chinese government. FBI Director Chris Wray on Friday said that Beijing might have the ability to control TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, “which allows them to manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations.” TikTok could also be used to collect personal data