Hong Kong is putting more police on its streets during this year’s Chinese National Day celebrations than it did for the same holiday during unrest two years ago.
The territory’s police force yesterday deployed more than 8,000 officers, including counterterrorism experts, elite Special Tactical Squad “raptors” and plainclothes officers, local media firm HK01 and others reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
That is more than the 6,000 on the streets during the Oct. 1 holiday in 2019, when protests shook the territory.
Police were to cordon off areas in Wan Chai District, where top officials are to conduct an annual flag-raising ceremony and where Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) is expected to give a speech.
Representatives for the Hong Kong police and government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Separately, Hong Kong legislators on Wednesday outlawed insulting the Chinese flag, including on the Internet.
Turning the flag upside down, trampling on it or replacing its five stars “with five virus shapes” could all be crimes resulting in three years in jail or a fine of HK$50,000 (US$6,423) under amendments to the flag and emblem bill passed by the Hong Kong Legislative Council.
Such imagery has been used as people blamed China for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The legislative intent is to prohibit all public and intentional desecrating behaviors in relation to the national flag and national emblem, regardless of whether the behavior is committed in the real life or the virtual world,” the legislators said in a report.
The bill — part of a broader political push to ban dissent in the territory — passed unopposed, with the chamber devoid of opposition members after pro-democracy politicians were either disqualified or resigned in protest.
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