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.
‘GOOD SIGN’: Thanks to public efforts, the number of COVID-19 cases is on a downward trend, the minister of health said, but told people not to let their guard down The COVID-19 situation appears to be relatively stable and on a downward trend, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, as he reported 185 domestic COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths. “This seems to be a relatively good sign,” Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), told a daily news briefing. In Taipei and New Taipei City, the overall situation seems to be heading in a good direction, he added. He attributed it to public efforts to control the spread of the virus, but warned people against letting their guard down. Of the new local cases, 83 are males and
PHASE 2: The firm’s CEO said that the results were good and the experimental vaccine safe, but added that hoped-for phase 3 trials would be expensive Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗) yesterday reported positive results from an interim analysis of phase 2 trials for its COVID-19 vaccine, saying that the vaccine demonstrated high seroconversion rates and geometric mean titer (GMT) figures. A seroconversion rate is the percentage of participants in a trial displaying virus-specific immune memory after being given a vaccine, while the GMT measures the level of neutralizing antibody response, Medigen said. The experimental vaccine has a seroconversion rate of 99.8 percent and its GMT was 662 among the participants aged 20 to 89, while the gauges rose to 99.9 percent and 733 respectively in participants aged
ROLLING OUT DOSES: The expansion aims to speed up Taiwan’s vaccination drive by making more Moderna jabs available to workers at hospitals, the CECC said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday expanded the eligibility for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to all healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers in the highest vaccine priority group. The center said that 75,000 doses of the vaccine — half of the first batch Taiwan has received — were on Wednesday distributed to hospitals across the nation with specialized COVID-19 rooms, negative pressure wards and testing services. Thus far, they had only been offered to frontline healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers at the designated hospitals, it said. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the eligibility was
The EU is set to lift travel restrictions for US and Taiwanese residents as soon as this week, in the latest step toward a return to normal, despite concerns over the spread of potentially dangerous COVID-19 variants. Portugal, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, proposed adding Taiwan, the US, Albania, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Macau, the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Saudi Arabia and Serbia to a so-called “white list” of countries from which non-essential travel to the bloc is allowed, a diplomat familiar with the matter said. Assuming no objections, EU government envoys in Brussels would today approve the expanded