Anniversary under the tension of the handover from Hong Kong to China

At a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the surrender of Hong Kong, local chief executive Carrie Lam said on Wednesday that the new Security Act was the city’s most important development since returning to Beijing. Pro-democracy activists have planned to demonstrate against the new text.

Hong Kong authorities placed major security in the city on Wednesday, July 1, the 23-year anniversary of the surrender of the former British colony to China, just hours after the entry into force of a controversial new national security law adopted in Beijing.

According to the official Chinese press, the text approved by the Chinese Parliament is intended to combat subversion, terrorism, separatism and cooperation with foreign forces in the special administrative region. It contains sentences of up to life imprisonment.

This new law fears a transition to a more authoritarian era in Hong Kong, which was returned to China on July 1, 1997 with the promise of continuing to enjoy a high degree of independence under the “one country, two systems” principle. .

In particular, it provides stricter monitoring of NGOs and other groups, a measure that can revive the wrath of active-democratic activists, one year after widespread protests against Hong Kong’s executive and the will for China. to strengthen its grip on the territory.

“A historical step”

He spoke at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the surrender of Hong Kong, saying that the new Security Act was the city’s most important development since its return to Beijing.

“This is a historic step to perfecting Hong Kong by preserving national security, territorial integrity and a secure system,” said Carrie Lam. “It is also an inevitable and swift decision to restore stability in society,” she added from the scene where the ultimate colonial governor, Chris Patten, formalized the surrender of the territory to China 23 years ago. early.

Authorities banned the annual march on Wednesday to mark the anniversary of the surrender to China, highlighting the ban on gathering more than 50 people to fight the coronavirus epidemic. Many activists, who are afraid that the law could harm the freedoms of the global financial center, have nevertheless planned not to follow the authority’s directives and to march on the streets in the afternoon.

A “sad day for Hong Kong”

The Beijing and Hong Kong authorities reiterated that the new law only focused on some “problem makers” and that it would not affect the rights and freedoms of the majority or the interests of investors.

Western governments say they are concerned about the city’s international status, one of the largest financial centers in the world. “Today is a sad day for Hong Kong, and for all freedom lovers in China,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “The United States will not sit vacant while China ends Hong Kong in its authoritarian mouth,” he said.

Beijing on Wednesday threw “a logic for bandits”. “We did not provoke you. With what right are you aggressive towards us?”

With Reuters and AFP