According to local media reports on Thursday, May 21, the Chinese government is planning new legislation with the aim to ban sedition, secession, and treason in Hong Kong. The proposed law is expected to be debated by the National People's Congress on Friday, May 22. As a response, opposition protests are expected in Hong Kong as well as internationally. Opponents of the legislation argue that the new law would allow the Chinese government to crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong under the guise of protecting national security.
Previously, on Monday, May 18, tensions between opposition and pro-establishment lawmakers resulted in clashes with security guards in the House Committee. Pro-democracy committee members objected to pro-establishment lawmakers installing one of their own as the committee's new chairwoman. Scuffles broke out between the protesting opposition lawmakers, who were attempting to hold up proceedings to appoint the new chairperson by blockading the podium, and security guards trying to escort the pro-government lawmakers to the podium. As a result, 15 opposition lawmakers were forcibly ejected from the chamber.
Further protests and associated clashes with security forces are expected over the near term.
Demonstrations have been held throughout Hong Kong since June 2019 to protest a controversial extradition bill, which would have allowed authorities in Hong Kong to extradite fugitives wanted in mainland China and other territories. While the bill was withdrawn on September 4, mass protests continue to be organized to demand government reforms and police accountability over violence since the start of the demonstrations. Pro-democracy candidates won 389 of the 452 seats in the territory's district council elections on November 24. The pro-democracy movement victory and the high turnout (71 percent) of the vote suggest that the public continues to support protests. Over 8000 people have been arrested since the protests began.
After a break in protests due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, demonstrations have increased in frequency since the relaxation of COVID-19 measures in late April. However, as of May 11, public gatherings of more than eight people remain forbidden due to the virus, which may inhibit protest activity.
Individuals in Hong Kong are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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