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.
SURPRISE GUEST: Media reports identified the visitor as Admiral Michael Studeman, director of the J2, which oversees intelligence at the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command A two-star US Navy admiral overseeing US military intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region has made an unannounced visit to Taiwan, two sources told Reuters on Sunday. The sources, who include a Taiwanese official familiar with the situation, said the official was Rear Admiral Michael Studeman. They were speaking on condition of anonymity. After initially saying on Sunday night that it had no comment about the report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it welcomed the visit of an “unidentified US official,” but declined to give more details because the trip “has not been made public.” Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) yesterday
DEFENSE: The construction of indigenous submarines will be a testament to the nation’s commitment to safeguard its sovereignty, President Tsai Ing-wen said President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday presided over a ceremony to mark the start of construction of the nation’s first indigenous submarine at state-run shipbuilder CSBC Corp’s (台灣國際造船) shipyard in Kaohsiung. “This submarine is an important part of allowing our navy to develop asymmetric warfare and to intimidate and block enemy ships from surrounding Taiwan’s main island,” Tsai said. “With the construction of the submarine to its future commission, we will certainly let the world know our persistence in safeguarding our sovereignty.” Tsai has made boosting the nation’s indigenous defense capacity a central pillar of her defense policy. She recently relaunched the
ESPIONAGE CHARGE: A TAO spokesperson said that the rights of Shih Cheng-ping were ‘fully safeguarded’ during the hearing, which handed him four years in prison China sentenced Shih Cheng-ping (施正屏), a former National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) professor, to four years in jail for espionage, officials said yesterday. The ruling came a month after Shih made a televised “confession” on state media. Shih, who is also a former chief economist for Chinese conglomerate Huaxia Group (華夏集團), was found guilty by a Chinese court on Tuesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) told a news briefing. Shih — who vanished after traveling to China in August 2018 — was among Taiwanese who China Central Television (CCTV) last month showed confessing to spying. CCTV often broadcasts suspects admitting to crimes, even
TIMELINE QUESTIONS: Chen Shih-chung said: ‘If anyone could assure us that we could get the shots in the first quarter of next year, we could set off firecrackers’ Taiwan has secured nearly 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported five new imported infections among travelers from Indonesia and the Philippines. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that Taiwan on Monday signed a procurement contract with a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer and paid a deposit to secure 10 million doses. It was the first contract finalized with a manufacturer and negotiations are under way with three other vaccine makers, Chen said. With the more than 4.6 million doses that can be obtained through the COVAX platform —