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Hong Kong cops: “We all work for China now”

Looking as ominous as storm troopers in a Star Wars sequel, riot police roamed across Hong Kong yesterday, using rubber bullets and tear gas to make their point clear to citizens of Hong Kong: We work for China, and so do you.

Spontaneous protests have sprouted all over Hong Kong as the Chinese Communist Party considers a new law with draconian control over a variety of acts, like public protests, considered as threats to state security.

Separately, protestors were also trying to scuttle a law being considered by the Hong Kong legislature that gives out three-year jail sentences to anyone who insults the Chinese national anthem.

In response to the protests, Hong Kong police “fanned out across the city to conduct widespread stop-and-search operations in a bid to deter mass gatherings.”

“Pepper balls were fired at a crowd of protesters in Central,” says RTHK, “schoolgirls were searched in Mong Kok, and a large number of people were held by officers in Causeway Bay before being taken away in coaches.”

The protests are part of an ongoing feud between democratic activists in the city of Hong Kong, and China’s Communist Party.

Hong Kong is recognized internationally as a special territory under China, but not under Chinese control. Elements within the Chinese Communist Party wish to repeal the agreement they signed with the UK when Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997.

That agreement, known as “one country, two systems,” allowed Hong Kong to control its internal affairs for 50 years, free from control of the Chinese government.

In an ominous sign of growing distrust between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing factions, the latest scuffles are not confined to the street.

Lawmakers in the legislative chamber of Hong Kong dissolved into a mob after pro-democracy legislators were bodily removed by pro-Beijing legislators’ security apparatus.

“The reality in Hong Kong today is that whenever Beijing, whenever Carrie Lam and the pro-establishment don’t like something, they will do whatever it takes, including breaking the system that we have, the rules that we have,” said Dennis Kwok, a lawmaker with the pro-democracy Civic Party.

Kwok was recently removed extra-legally by Beijing as a chair of the legislative committee for the house chamber.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned Congress that Hong Kong no longer has autonomy under the “one country, two systems” agreement that was supposed to govern Hong Kong affairs.

“No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo’s notice to Congress has legal implications..

The U.S. agreed that while Hong Kong operated with autonomy under the “one country, two systems” agreement, U.S. law would remain unchanged, providing Hong Kong with the unrestricted access to financial markets that have made it the financial capital of Asia.

With the notice by Pompeo, the Trump administration is serving notice to Beijing that Hong Kong, under Communist domination, will not be so favored in the future under U.S. law.  

PHOTO: Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP

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