Tear gas and pepper spray as police crack down on Hong Kong protests

Police fired tear gas and pepper spray to disperse thousands protesting on Sunday against Beijing’s plan to directly impose national security laws on the city, the biggest flare-up in the city since the coronavirus lockdowns began, Reuters reports.

Crowds thronged the bustling shopping district of Causeway Bay, where protesters chanted, “Revolution of our time. Liberate Hong Kong,” “Fight for freedom, Stand with Hong Kong,” and “Hong Kong independence, the only way out.”

The protest was the first since Beijing proposed national security laws on Thursday and pose a fresh challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping as authorities struggle to tame public opposition to China’s tightening grip over the global financial hub.

The rally had been officially called as a protest against a controversial national anthem bill, due for a second reading in the city’s lawmaking body on Wednesday. Whether this was a deliberate deception on the part of the organisers, or whether it was hijacked, will make no difference to the Chinese Communist Party who will likely see this as a legitimate reason to ban all such manifestations for the near future.

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The great betrayal: Hong Kong prepares for Beijing to crack-down on freedoms as west stands by.

The tough security laws that are about to be imposed on Hong Kong, effectively bringing an end to the "one country-two systems" concept agreed in the Sino-British Declaration of 1984, which paved the way for the hand-over of Hong Kong and its 6.5 million of its people to Beijing, have sent a chill through financial markets. Foreign governments and international human rights groups have expressed their fears.

China has dismissed such complaints as “meddling,” saying the proposed laws are necessary and will not harm Hong Kong autonomy or foreign investors.

“These radical claims and illegal violence are extremely worrying,” Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said in a blog post, referring to a backlash against the proposed laws as well as anti-government protests that roiled the city for months from June last year.

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