Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Hong Kong have defied a ban to stage a mass vigil for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing. Officers erected barricades around the city’s Victoria Park, but some pro-democracy protesters knocked them down and held candlelit gatherings. Police banned the vigil this year, citing coronavirus measures.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the United Kingdom will consider revisions in its immigration rules, giving more Hong Kong residents a path to residency and citizenship, amid China’s plan to impose a new national security law in the city. Since Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, Johnson said that “the key has been the precious concept of ‘one country, two systems’.
For the first time in 30 years, police in Hong Kong have denied permission for organizers to hold an annual vigil for victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Police have cited concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. The rally has been held each year since 1990 to commemorate the lives lost in the June 4, 1989, crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Hong Kong can no longer be regarded as autonomous from mainland China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a notification to Congress on Wednesday, setting the stage for sanctions against Beijing and the withdrawal of the former British colony’s preferential trading status. Under the Hong Kong Policy Act, Hong Kong is seen as “nonsovereign entity distinct from China,” and therefore not subject to the high tariffs Trump placed on mainland China.
Police in Hong Kong fired pepper pellets and made 300 arrests as thousands of people took to the streets on Wednesday to voice anger over national security legislation proposed by China, that has raised international alarm over freedoms in the city. The United States, Britain, the European Union and others have expressed concern about the legislation, widely seen as a possible turning point for China’s freest city and one of the world’s main financial hubs.
China plans to push through sweeping national security laws for Hong Kong at its annual meeting of parliament, in a move that critics say will effectively end the territory’s autonomy. Condemnation of the proposal was swift, amid fears it could erase the “one country, two systems” framework that is supposed to grant the territory a high degree of autonomy.
A number of pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong were dragged out of the chamber during a row about a Chinese national anthem bill. The bill would criminalize disrespect of the anthem. Legislators were arguing over the leadership of a key committee, which would affect the bill’s progress. It’s the second time in recent days there have been scuffles in the Legislative Council.
Hong Kong police arrested three veteran pro-democracy figures for taking part in an unauthorized anti-government march last year amid the city’s most serious political crisis for decades. Jimmy Lai, the 71-year-old founder of Next Media, which publishes the popular, anti-government Apple Daily newspaper, was picked up by police on Friday morning for taking part in a march banned by police on 31 August.
Hong Kong reported its first coronavirus death on Tuesday, the second outside mainland China from a fast-spreading outbreak that has killed 427 people and threatened the global economy. The Chinese-ruled gambling hub of Macau asked casino operators to close for two weeks to help curb the virus. Hong Kong’s first fatality was a 39-year-old man with an underlying illness who had visited China’s Wuhan city.
Hong Kong’s leader pledged to listen to public opinion on Monday and referred to deep-seated problems in society after a landslide election victory by opponents of Chinese rule amid months of sometimes violent pro-democracy unrest. Democratic candidates secured almost 90% of 452 district council seats in Sunday’s poll, held during a rare weekend lull in clashes with police, despite a strongly resourced and mobilized pro-establishment opposition.