On Sunday, June 28, China's National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee commenced a three-day meeting to discuss controversial proposed security legislation for Hong Kong, which could lead to the body voting to approve the legislation on Tuesday, June 30. The legislation is expected to come into effect by Wednesday, July 1, if the NPC approves it.
On Sunday, June 28, at least 53 people were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly after clashes broke out during an initially peaceful protest in Kowloon against the proposed legislation. Participants gathered at Jordan MTR station in Jordan district, before marching along Nathan Road towards Mong Kok district in a silent protest. Riot police deployed pepper spray after scuffles broke out at the corner of Dundas Street and Nathan Road in Mong Kok. The protests reportedly died down from 19:00 (local time), and police departed the scene.
Reports indicate that activists continue to urge supporters to congregate on July 1 to mark the anniversary of the handover of the city from British to Chinese rule, despite Hong Kong police announcing on Saturday, June 27, that the annual march was banned, citing public health concerns and violence in previous protests. Participants have been urged to gather at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay at 14:00, before marching to the government's headquarters on Tim Mei Avenue in Admiralty district, where they will congregate at 15:00. Amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, there still remains a ban on public gatherings of more than 50 people.
There is a potential for unrest across Hong Kong in the near term and following the Committee's potential decision on Tuesday. These protests may result in confrontations with security forces. A heightened security presence and transportation disruptions are to be expected in the vicinity of all protests.
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 While the bill was withdrawn in September, mass protests continue to be organized to demand government reforms and police accountability over violence since the start of the demonstrations.
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. There has also been an uptick in protest activity since Beijing proposed introducing the controversial new security law in May 2020. Although the full text of the law has not been released, among its proposals is the establishment of a new security agency in Hong Kong to enforce new security regulations and criminalizes the incitement of separatism and collusion with foreign powers. There has been speculation that the law could be retroactively applied and that sentences for violating the law could include life imprisonment despite statements suggesting that the maximum jail term would be ten years.
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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