Hong Kong unions and students to strike against the national anthem law

The police will deploy 3,000 agents to protect the local Parliament. Tensions are high in the city due to Beijing’s national security law. For HK Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the anthem bill does not threaten our freedoms.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – More than 30 trade unions have announced a general strike tomorrow against a bill that criminalises insulting China’s national anthem.

Student groups, including from secondary schools, plan to join the unions and boycott classes. Online, motorists are being encouraged to slow down traffic to block the main roads.

Pro-democracy groups oppose the obligation to sing and show respect to China’s national anthem. In their view, such a draconian measure violates the rights of the local population.

Offenders could get up to three years in prison, and a fine of 50,000 Hong Kong dollars (US,450).

The second reading of the national anthem bill is set to resume at the LegCo on Wednesday afternoon. Pro-democracy activists are hoping to repeat the protests of 2 June 2019, which saw tens of thousands of people besiege the LegCo building and force pro-Beijing lawmakers to put the bill on hold.

The police will deploy 3,000 agents to protect lawmakers. The final vote of the anthem law is scheduled for 4 June, the day on which the victims of the Tiananmen massacre of 1989 are commemorated in Victoria Park.

Hong Kong is the only place in China where the tragic event is remembered every year, but this year it might not occur because of the extension of the lockdown.

Tensions are running high in the city. Hundreds of people took to the streets today to protest against Beijing's national security law. This was the first real rally after months under government restrictions that limited gatherings to eight people or less.

Police arrested 180 protesters and at least 10 activists were injured and taken to hospital.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam today said that the bill, pushed for by Beijing, will not affect civil and political rights.

Under the agreements between China and the United Kingdom, which controlled Hong Kong until 1997, the latter was granted a broad degree of political and economic autonomy until 2047.

For pro-democracy protesters, Lam is guilty of accepting Beijing's interference in Hong Kong affairs.

The authorities have faced repeated protests by anti-government groups for months. The latter began with the proposed extradition law, which was later withdrawn, but eventually morphed into a broader movement for democratic freedoms.