In Hong Kong, local activists are calling on people to take to the streets on July 1 to protest against Beijing’s national security law despite a police ban on the gathering.
Several local activists including Figo Chan, vice convenor of local pro-democracy group Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF); Wu Chai-wai, chairman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party; district councilors Tsang Kin-shing and Andy Chui; and lawmaker Eddie Chu, held a press conference at noon on Tuesday.
Together they said they will be the organizers of a march from Causeway Bay to the city’s Central district on Wednesday afternoon after police rejected two applications—one from CHRF and another other from Chui—to hold a rally on July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China in 1997.
CHRF, which has been the organizer for most of the July 1 marches in the past, drew a crowd of more than half of a million people last year who voiced their opposition to the government’s now fully-scrapped extradition bill.
CHRF is currently appealing the police ban but it is widely expected that the ban will not be overturned.
Police rejected CHRF’s application saying that the protest had a “potential for violence” and the gathering would also violate a local gathering limit of 50 people to prevent the spread of the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
Chan said the march on Wednesday will be held under the theme of opposing Beijing’s national security law, as well as continuing the push for protesters’ five demands—which includes universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into instances of police violence against protesters and journalists in the past year.
On Tuesday morning, Hong Kong media reported that the standing committee of China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, had passed the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) national security law after a ceremonial vote.
The law will criminalize all those who engage in activities connected to “subversion, secession, terrorism, and foreign interference” against the CCP.
Currently, neither Beijing or state-run media have formally announced the passing of the law, and the exact provisions of the law remain unknown. Some details were announced on June 20, such as that China would have jurisdiction over certain cases under exceptional circumstances.
Local media RTHK reported on Tuesday afternoon that the information office of China’s State Council will hold a press conference at 10 p.m. local time on Wednesday to “introduce” the national security law.
Chan stated that it would be very hard to see Beijing withdraw the national security law, but local citizens must be united in voicing their opposition to the law. He added that he knew the risk of coming out tomorrow since he had been charged multiple times for taking part in “unlawful assemblies.”
He asked Hongkongers not to remain silent out of fear, otherwise, they will lose their freedoms and basic rights.
Wu said he was fully aware of how he might be arrested for organizing the protest but it was his responsibility to call on the people of Hong Kong to voice their opposition.
China’s passage of the law immediately drew criticism from Japan and Taiwan. According to Kyodo News, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the enactment of the law was “regrettable.”
Taiwan’s Cabinet Spokesperson Evian Ting said the law would “severely impact” freedom, democracy, and human rights in Hong Kong, and warned Taiwanese citizens of “possible risks” when visiting the Chinese city, according to Reuters.
In Hong Kong, pro-democracy party Demosistō announced on Tuesday afternoon that it would “disband and cease all operation as a group,” after four of its members Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Agnes Chow, and Jeffrey Ngo announced their withdrawal from the party earlier in the day.
Washington-based oganization HKDC stated that it stood with the four Demosistō members on its Twitter account.
“We will not back down and we will not stop speaking up for Hong Kong as part of this global movement you have each helped to build from the ground up,” HKDC added.
The pro-independence group Hong Kong National Front announced that it will disband its Hong Kong branch and pass on all of its work to its branches outside of the city. It added that it will continue to push for Hong Kong’s formal independence.
Hong Kong-based pro-independence group Student Localism also announced that it had disbanded all of its members and its operations inside Hong Kong had been ceased. Overseas members will continue operations, including pushing for the city’s formal independence, the group said in a statement.
According to RTHK, four police groups in Hong Kong issued a joint statement welcoming the national security law, saying that local protests in the past year had plunged the city into “turmoil.”