Activists call for Hong Kong to rise up against new security laws

Hong Kong activists called on Friday for people to rise up against Beijing's plans to impose national security legislation in the city, prompting alarm that the new laws could erode its freedoms through "force and fear".

A proposed march at noon in the central financial district did not materialise after online calls were heeded only by a handful of activists and as riot police made their presence visible on the streets.

But new calls have emerged for flash mobs at night across the territory and activists including Joshua Wong plan to meet the press to announce "street action" later on Friday.

"This is a great moment to reboot the protest," said university student Kay, 24, who participated in last year's mass scale and often violent anti-government and anti-Beijing protests which this year entered a lull due to the coronavirus.

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Riot police clear the streets outside the Legislative Council building, after protesters stormed the building on the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China, in Hong Kong, China July 2, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Hong Kong has been hit by weeks of protests over a government attempt to change extradition laws to allow suspects to be sent to China to face trial.
Police fire tear gas at protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 2, 2019. - Riot police fired tear gas as they attempted to dislodge anti-government protesters in the early hours of the morning of July 2 in chaotic scenes in the heart of Hong Kong. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty Images)
Police fire tear gas at protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 2, 2019. - Riot police fired tear gas as they attempted to dislodge anti-government protesters in the early hours of the morning of July 2 in chaotic scenes in the heart of Hong Kong. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty Images)
Police stand guard on roads after protesters broke into the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 2, 2019. - Riot police fired tear gas as they attempted to dislodge anti-government protesters in the early hours of the morning of July 2 in chaotic scenes in the heart of Hong Kong. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police fire tear gas at protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 2, 2019. - Riot police fired tear gas as they attempted to dislodge anti-government protesters in the early hours of the morning of July 2 in chaotic scenes in the heart of Hong Kong. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police fire tear gas at protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 2, 2019. - Riot police fired tear gas as they attempted to dislodge anti-government protesters in the early hours of the morning of July 2 in chaotic scenes in the heart of Hong Kong. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters and members of the media are seen in the parliament chambers after protesters broke into the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hundreds of protesters stormed Hong Kong's parliament late on July 1 as the territory marked its China handover anniversary, ransacking the building and daubing its walls with graffiti as the city plunged into unprecedented depths of political chaos. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
HONG KONG, CHINA - 2019/07/01: Anti government demonstrators use umbrellas as shields, they also wear protective gears such as gas masks, helmets and eye goggles to defend themselves from police pepper spray and tear gas as they try to storm the legislative council building. Hundreds of protesters gather outside the legislative council building and attempt to force their way in and occupy Hong Kong's parliament on July 1 as the territory marked the anniversary of its 22nd anniversary handover to China. (Photo by Geovien So/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
HONG KONG - JULY 01: Protesters smash glass doors and windows of the Legislative Council Complex protest against the extradition bill on July 01, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters faced off with riot police on Monday during the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule as riot police officers used batons and pepper spray to push back demonstrators. The city's embattled leader Carrie Lam watched a flag-raising ceremony on a video display from inside a convention centre, citing bad weather, as water-filled barricades were set up around the exhibition centre.(Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - JULY 01: Protesters gather outside Legislative Council Complex protest against the extradition bill on July 01, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters faced off with riot police on Monday during the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule as riot police officers used batons and pepper spray to push back demonstrators. The city's embattled leader Carrie Lam watched a flag-raising ceremony on a video display from inside a convention centre, citing bad weather, as water-filled barricades were set up around the exhibition centre.(Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
A protester defaces the Hong Kong emblem after protesters broke into the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hundreds of protesters stormed Hong Kong's parliament late on July 1 as the territory marked its China handover anniversary, ransacking the building and daubing its walls with graffiti as the city plunged into unprecedented depths of political chaos. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty Images)
HONG KONG, HONG KONG - JULY 01: Protesters break into the Legislative Council Complex protest against the extradition bill on July 1, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters broke into Hong Kong's legislature on Monday during the 22nd anniversary of the territory's return to China from Britain after riot police officers used batons and pepper spray to push back demonstrators. The city's embattled leader Carrie Lam watched a flag-raising ceremony on a video display from inside a convention center, citing bad weather, as tens of thousands protesters marched separately after the ceremony that morning. (Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
Protesters break into the chamber of Legislative Council in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Anti-government protesters stormed Hong Kong's parliament building late on July 1 after successfully smashing their way through reinforced glass windows and prizing open metal shutters that were blocking their way. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters break into the parliament chambers of the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hundreds of protesters stormed Hong Kong's parliament late on July 1 as the territory marked its China handover anniversary, ransacking the building and daubing its walls with graffiti as the city plunged into unprecedented depths of political chaos. (Photo by VIVEK PRAKASH / AFP) (Photo credit should read VIVEK PRAKASH/AFP/Getty Images)
HONG KONG, HONG KONG - JULY 01: Protesters take part in a rally against extradition bill on July 1, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters faced off with riot police on Monday during the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule as riot police officers used batons and pepper spray to push back demonstrators. The city's embattled leader Carrie Lam watched a flag-raising ceremony on a video display from inside a convention centre, citing bad weather, as water-filled barricades were set up around the exhibition centre.(Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
HONG KONG, HONG KONG - JULY 01: Protesters take part in a rally against extradition bill on July 1, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters faced off with riot police on Monday during the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule as riot police officers used batons and pepper spray to push back demonstrators. The city's embattled leader Carrie Lam watched a flag-raising ceremony on a video display from inside a convention centre, citing bad weather, as water-filled barricades were set up around the exhibition centre.(Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
HONG KONG, HONG KONG - JULY 01: Protesters smash glass doors and windows to break into the parliament chamber of Legislative Council Complex protest against the extradition bill on July 1, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters faced off with riot police on Monday during the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule as riot police officers used batons and pepper spray to push back demonstrators. The city's embattled leader Carrie Lam watched a flag-raising ceremony on a video display from inside a convention centre, citing bad weather, as water-filled barricades were set up around the exhibition centre.(Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
Protesters spray graffiti in the parliament chamber after they broke into the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hundreds of protesters stormed Hong Kong's parliament late on July 1 as the territory marked its China handover anniversary, ransacking the building and daubing its walls with graffiti as the city plunged into unprecedented depths of political chaos. (Photo by VIVEK PRAKASH / AFP) (Photo credit should read VIVEK PRAKASH/AFP/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - JULY 01: Protesters use a recycling bin to break the glass inside the Legislative Council while protesting against the extradition bill on July 1, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters faced off with riot police on Monday during the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule as riot police officers used batons and pepper spray to push back demonstrators. The city's embattled leader Carrie Lam watched a flag-raising ceremony on a video display from inside a convention centre, citing bad weather, as water-filled barricades were set up around the exhibition centre. (Photo by Ivan Shum/Clicks Images via Getty Images)
A protester waves the British Union Jack flag in the parliament chamber after they broke into the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hundreds of protesters stormed Hong Kong's parliament late on July 1 as the territory marked its China handover anniversary, ransacking the building and daubing its walls with graffiti as the city plunged into unprecedented depths of political chaos. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Protesters gather outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July1, 2019. - Hundreds of protesters stormed Hong Kong's parliament late on July 1 as the territory marked its China handover anniversary, ransacking the building and daubing its walls with graffiti as the city plunged into unprecedented depths of political chaos. (Photo by DALE DE LA REY / AFP) (Photo credit should read DALE DE LA REY/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters break into the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Anti-government protesters stormed Hong Kong's parliament building late on July 1 after successfully smashing their way through reinforced glass windows and prizing open metal shutters that were blocking their way. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
HONG KONG, HONG KONG - JULY 01: Protesters break into the Legislative Council Complex protest against the extradition bill on July 1, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters faced off with riot police on Monday during the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule as riot police officers used batons and pepper spray to push back demonstrators. The city's embattled leader Carrie Lam watched a flag-raising ceremony on a video display from inside a convention centre, citing bad weather, as water-filled barricades were set up around the exhibition centre.(Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
HONG KONG, HONG KONG - JULY 01: Protesters smash glass doors and windows to break into the parliament chamber of Legislative Council Complex protest against the extradition bill on July 1, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters faced off with riot police on Monday during the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule as riot police officers used batons and pepper spray to push back demonstrators. The city's embattled leader Carrie Lam watched a flag-raising ceremony on a video display from inside a convention centre, citing bad weather, as water-filled barricades were set up around the exhibition centre.(Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
HONG KONG, HONG KONG - JULY 01: Protesters smash glass doors and windows to break into the parliament chamber of Legislative Council Complex protest against the extradition bill on July 1, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters faced off with riot police on Monday during the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule as riot police officers used batons and pepper spray to push back demonstrators. The city's embattled leader Carrie Lam watched a flag-raising ceremony on a video display from inside a convention centre, citing bad weather, as water-filled barricades were set up around the exhibition centre.(Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
A protester walks past a sign for the government headquarters after they broke into the building in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Anti-government protesters stormed Hong Kong's parliament building late on July 1 after successfully smashing their way through reinforced glass windows and prizing open metal shutters that were blocking their way. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters break into the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Anti-government protesters stormed Hong Kong's parliament building late on July 1 after successfully smashing their way through reinforced glass windows and prizing open metal shutters that were blocking their way. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters are seen moving barricades down the road in Hong Kong, China. 1 July 2019. Protesters today clash with police with police using pepper spray and batons to disperses Protesters , protesters started occupying road early morning on the 22th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong From the United Kingdom to China. (Photo by Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Police Officers are seen waving their batons in Hong Kong, China. 1 July 2019. Protesters today clash with police with police using pepper spray and batons to disperses Protesters , protesters started occupying road early morning on the 22th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong From the United Kingdom to China. (Photo by Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A Protester is seen lying on the ground while police surround him in Hong Kong, China. 1 July 2019. Protesters today clash with police with police using pepper spray and batons to disperses Protesters , protesters started occupying road early morning on the 22th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong From the United Kingdom to China. (Photo by Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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The security law plan hit financial markets on Friday, due to concerns the semiautonomous city's status as a global financial hub was at risk, with Hong Kong stocks selling off as China's parliament sat to discuss the new law.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 3.7% to a seven-week low, helping to pull down MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan 1.2%.

The proposed legislation could heighten tensions between Beijing and Washington, whose relationship is already frayed by trade disputes and reciprocal accusations over the pandemic.

US President Donald Trump warned Washington would react "very strongly" if Beijing went ahead with the security law.

"It is starting to look like a US-China summer of discontent in the making," said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at AxiCorp.

Innes said the new law could potentially reignite the pro-democracy demonstrations of 2019, the biggest crisis the former British colony has faced since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

DRAFT PROPOSAL

Speaking on Friday in his annual report to the Chinese parliament, Premier Li Keqiang said China will establish a "sound" legal system and enforcement mechanisms to ensure national security in Hong Kong and Macau, its other semi-autonomous city.

The proposed legislation for Hong Kong requires the territory to quickly finish enacting national security regulations under its mini-constitution, the Basic law, according to a draft seen by Reuters.

The document said the laws will tackle secession, subversion and terrorism activities, as well as foreign interference. It says it will safeguard the central government's "overall jurisdiction" as well as Hong Kong's "high autonomy".

"When needed, relevant national security organs of the Central People's Government will set up agencies," in Hong Kong to safeguard national security, the draft said.

Foreign diplomats are urgently seeking more details, fearing the statement could formalise and expand the presence of mainland security and intelligence services in Hong Kong. Currently they can take no enforcement action in the city.

A previous attempt to adopt similar legislation in 2003 was met with a protest that drew around half a million people onto the streets and was eventually shelved.

Pro-democracy activists and politicians have for years opposed the idea of national security laws, arguing they could erode the city's high degree of autonomy, guaranteed under the "one country, two systems" handover agreement, which China says it is undermined by protesters.

"It is essentially declaring directly that 'one country two systems' is null and a failure," said Eric Cheung, principal lecturer at Hong Kong University's department of law.

"THE END OF HONG KONG"

Local pro-democracy lawmakers denounced the plans on Thursday night as "the end of Hong Kong".

"Beijing is attempting to silence Hong Kongers' critical voices with force and fear," pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong tweeted. "Deep down protesters know, we insist not because we are strong, but because we have no other choice."

Hong Kong's Legislative Council chairman Andrew Leung said it "was definitely not the end of one country, two systems."

"If it continues like this in Hong Kong, what about the livelihood of our people, the economy and our business," he said, referring to protests

The US State Department warned a high-degree of autonomy and respect for human rights were key to preserving the territory's special status in US law, which has helped it maintain its position as a world financial centre.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council urged Beijing on Friday not to lead Hong Kong into "bigger turmoil" due to wrong policy decisions.

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