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Hong Kong Police Arrest Hundreds Of Protesters Under New National Security Law

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Today - July 1 - marks the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to Chinese rule back in 1997. The day typically draws huge crowds of pro-democracy protesters.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

But this year, for the first time, organizers were denied permission to assemble due to concerns over the coronavirus. Thousands gathered anyway, in defiance of government orders.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Crosstalk).

KELLY: Police firing pepper spray, tear gas and water cannons at the protesters. And they arrested about 370 people.

SHAPIRO: The protests also coincided with the imposition of a new national security law in Hong Kong. A protester holding what appear to be a Hong Kong independence flag was the first of 10 people arrested specifically for violating the new law.

KELLY: The law criminalizes separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. Serious perpetrators face life in prison. Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, called the bill an essential and timely decision for restoring stability.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CARRIE LAM: (Non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: This new law, which is very controversial, allows Beijing to try complex and serious cases in mainland China, an echo of the extradition bill that officials shelved after mass peaceful protests in Hong Kong last year.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.