Hundreds of protesters rallied on Sunday outside the Chinese consulate on Granville Street in Vancouver against the Communist Party of China’s proposal to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong.
Last week’s surprise proposal to have the National’s People Congress in Beijing rubber-stamp the new law has been widely condemned as the clearest direct violation of the “one country, two systems” rule of governance since the 1997 handover, which ensured Hong Kong a suite of freedoms and a high degree of autonomy.
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The move has reignited the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, with thousands taking to the streets on Sunday, making it the largest act of civil disobedience in the former British colony since the onset of COVID-19. Police used tear gas and a water cannon, and reportedly arrested 180 people.
The Vancouver rally in solidarity with the Hong Kong protests was reminiscent of last year’s solidarity protests in the city, but there was no counter protest from government supporters this time. No issues were reported by Vancouver police.
Beijing is expected to rubber-stamp the new law without the approval of the Hong Kong legislature. There is widespread concern the new law’s components that criminalize separatism, subversion, terrorism, and activities by foreign forces could be broadly used to crush dissent in the city.
As well, the draft version of the law stipulates Beijing’s national security forces would be able to establish a presence in the city, potentially supplanting local police.
The Sino-British Joint Declaration that resulted in the 1997 handover of the British colony to China included a mini-constitution named the Basic Law. It secured the “one country, two systems” model of governance for a period of 50 years after the handover, with freedom of assembly and speech, the free press, an independent judiciary, and certain democratic rights protected during this period.
These freedoms make Hong Kong unique from Mainland Chinese cities, and have allowed it to become an international financial capital.