Police cite public health concerns . . .
Hong Kong police have officially banned, for the first time, the annual June 4th vigil for the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. The police said Monday that large gatherings are a “high risk activity” that could “increase participants’ chances of contracting [COVID-19].” In the past two weeks, community transmission of COVID-19 in Hong Kong has remained low, with authorities continuing to cap gatherings to a maximum of eight people until June 4th. Organizers of the annual vigil criticized the government for using the pandemic to bar people from commemorating Tiananmen, while urging the public to participate in an online vigil.
Treason, sedition, and subversion . . .
The ban comes following the National People’s Congress (NPC) passing the Hong Kong National Security Law last Thursday. The new legislation broadly prohibits “secession, subversion, foreign interference and terrorism” – further details of the legislation will be outlined in the coming weeks. Critics say the ambiguities in the law could lead to wide interpretation of “treason, sedition, and subversion.” For instance, one of the often-chanted slogans during the annual June 4th vigil is “end one-party dictatorship.” Some democracy activists are concerned that this slogan could constitute “subversion” under the new law.
Responses to the Hong Kong National Security Law . . .
Many Western countries have raised concerns that the National Security Law could further erode Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy. Last Thursday, Canada joined the U.K., U.S., and Australia in a joint statement criticizing China’s move to impose the law as it violates China’s “international obligations under the principles of the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.” Aside from the joint statement, U.S. President Donald Trump announced last Friday that the U.S. will revoke Hong Kong’s special trade privilege status, as well as sanction mainland and Hong Kong officials responsible for eroding the city’s autonomy.
- Financial Times: Donald Trump to revoke Hong Kong trade privileges in China escalation
- Hong Kong Free Press: Hong Kong bans annual Tiananmen Massacre vigil for first time in 30 years, citing COVID-19
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