05/27/2020, 16.46
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Hong Kong police arrest 300 protesters; thousands get away

Police fired pepper balls, attacked crowds and frisking people. Protesters marched and sang in different parts of the territory. For Nathan Law, the situation is like a curfew. Matthew Cheung Kin-chung and Li Ka-shing see security law as good for business.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Hong Kong police arrested 300 people on suspicion of illegal assembly, after clamping down hard on protests held in different parts of the city against a proposed national anthem bill.

The latter, which today went before Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo), would punish any show of disrespect to China’s national anthem with up to three years in prison and fines of up 50,000 Hong Kong dollars

For most people in Hong Kong, such a law, in combination with a national security law proposed by Beijing, would undermine civil liberties in the Special Region.

In coming out, protesters are showing a lot of courage because they are breaking health restrictions on large gatherings imposed as a result of the pandemic.

Hundreds of people, of very age, gathered in Hong Kong’s Central (District), at Admiralty, Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, marching on the streets and singing in shopping malls.

By 5pm, police said they had taken into custody 180 people in Central as well as Causeway Bay, 60 in Mong Kok, and 50 in Admiralty.

In order to disperse marchers, the police in an anti-riot gear fired pepper balls and to ensure sure that no one came close to the LegCo building.

“It's like a de facto curfew now," said disqualified lawmaker and pro-democracy activist Nathan Law. "I think the government has to understand why people are really angry," he added.

Reacting to those who fear China’s proposed national security bill, Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung tried to reassure markets, insisting that the city’s status as an international financial centre would not be affected.

“[This new law] will provide Hong Kong with a stable business environment for investors and citizens,” he said.

Speaking to two pro-Beijing newspapers, Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po, tycoon Li Ka-shing made the same point this morning. In his view, the new security law will have a positive effect on Hong Kong's stability and prosperity.

In both newspapers, Li Ka-shing was described as a "patriotic businessman". (P.W.)

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