Wednesday, December 8, 2021

HK crackdown escalates with mass opposition arrests

HONG KONG: China’s crackdown in Hong Kong escalated dramatically on Wednesday with police arresting more than 50 opposition figures in their largest operation since a draconian security law was imposed on the financial hub.

The sweep is the latest salvo in Beijing’s battle to stamp out dissent in the semi-autonomous city after millions hit the streets in 2019 with huge and sometimes violent democracy protests. Police confirmed 53 people—including a US citizen—were arrested for “subversion” in an early morning operation that involved about 1,000 officers. The charges were sparked by an attempt by opposition groups last year to win a majority in the city’s partially-elected legislature.

Hong Kong’s security chief John Lee described the arrests as “necessary” and aimed at a group of people who tried to “sink Hong Kong into an abyss” and “overthrow the government”. Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong said those facing prosecution “strategically organised or implemented a plan to paralyse the government”.

But the operation sparked a rebuke from Antony Blinken, US President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for secretary of state, who said authorities were launching “an assault on those bravely advocating for universal rights”.

“The Biden-Harris administration will stand with the people of Hong Kong and against Beijing’s crackdown on democracy,” he added.

Those detained represented a broad cross-section of Hong Kong’s opposition, from veteran former pro-democracy lawmakers such as James To, Andrew Wan, Lam Cheuk-ting and Claudia Mo to a host of younger activists.

Among the youth campaigners were Gwyneth Ho, a former journalist turned social activist, district councillor Tiffany Yuen and Jeffrey Andrews, a campaigner known for working with ethnic minorities.



Source: The News

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