HONG KONG, Jun 28, 2020, Kyodo. Hundreds of people took to the streets in Hong Kong on Sunday in protest as China’s top legislative body reviewed a proposed national security law that critics say would spell an end to the city’s semiautonomous status, Kyodo News reported.
Flocks of people walked toward the densely populated Mong Kok district in Kowloon, occasionally chanting slogans, in what was supposed to be a “silent march” to prevent police from disrupting the protest.
Police nonetheless blocked part of a major street on which the protesters marched, dispersing the crowd with pepper spray at one point. The police later said 53 people were arrested on suspicion of illegal assembly.
Some protesters were heard urging people to join a now-banned annual march that was scheduled for the July 1 anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule.
On Sunday, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress started a three-day session during which lawmakers heard a report on the deliberation on the draft national security law on Hong Kong, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
Hong Kong media reports say the law is widely expected to pass on Tuesday when the meeting ends.
Citing the need to safeguard China’s interests against a growing separatist movement and to stop foreign interference in Hong Kong, the parliament decided last month to enact the law.
The proposed law would outlaw and punish acts of separation, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and Western countries, such as the United States, have criticized the proposed law as undermining the high degree of autonomy Hong Kong was promised under China’s “one country, two systems” policy.