After China voted to pass its National Security Law on Tuesday, the first arrests have been made in Hong Kong for “unauthorized assemblies” and actions that “undermine national unification.”
On Wednesday, thousands gathered for the annual pro-democracy rally marking the end of British rule — the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s independence from Britain. Demonstrators chanted slogans like “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”
The gathering occurred in defiance of a ban of crowds exceeding 50 people due to COVID-19. In the wake of the rally, 360 were detained, reports the BBC.
The arrests are a reflection of heightened Chinese desire to squash Hong Kong’s sovereignty, which was promised by Chinese authorities to last 50 years after Britain handed the territory back to Beijing in 1997. Thanks to the new National Security Law, Beijing can exert greater control over the city and reduce the territory’s freedom of speech and rights to demonstrate against the government to nothing.
Despite the condemnation of China for passing the law by international leaders, the nation has made clear it would not accept outside interference in its domestic affairs.