Connecting Regions of Asia.

Police Swamp Hong Kong Before Anthem Debate

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Hong Kong police threw an impenetrable security cordon around the city’s legislature on Wednesday ahead of a debate
over a law that would ban insulting China’s national anthem.
Pro-democracy say this is the latest in a long line of measures to gag free speech in the  business- finance hub. prompted by the Beijing Communist regime.
The debate follows China’s plans to impose a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong to prevent 2019-type massive and often violent pro-democracy rallies.

That move has led to US warnings that Hong Kong is likely to lose its status as a global financial centre if  the ‘many freedoms’ allowed in the city are undermined and the judicial independence is swept aside by the Chinese Communist Party .
Under a deal agreed with Britain before the city’s return to China, Hong Kong is supposed to be
guaranteed certain liberties until 2047 that are denied to those on the mainland.  
That makes up the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement for enclaves like Hong Kong.
The legislature — known as LegCo — was trashed by protesters early on during last year’s protests as
authorities tried to fast-track an eventually scrapped bill allowing extraditions to the authoritarian
mainland.
Police were taking few chances ahead of Wednesday’s debate.
A ring of heavy water-filled barriers was thrown  around the key government complex , even as riot police squads conducted area-domination patrols on nearby roads and subway stations, conducting regular stop and searches to prevent protestors from other places to flock to Hong Kong city centre., eye-witnesses said.
Senior police officials told Easternlink “heavy reinforcements of policemen were on standby , ready to respond toattempts to block traffic outside the legislature or breach the building.
Some unions and student groups made calls for a general strike for Wednesday but it was unclear
whether crowds would materialise, says AFP
Hong Kong’s government is pushing a bill that will criminalise insulting Communist China’s “March of the
Volunteers” anthem, making it punishable by up to three years in jail.
Beijing has been infuriated by Hong Kongers — especially football fans — booing the national anthem.
\Hongkong’s pro-democracy opposition says the bill is a fresh attempt to criminalise dissent.
Fights erupted between rival legislators over the legislation.

Pro-democracy politicians are prevented from holding a majority in the legislature, only some of whose
members are elected by popular vote.
But for months they have used filibustering within a legislative committee to stop the bill reaching the
floor for a vote.
The city’s pro-Beijing faction seized control of the committee earlier this month — a move opponents
described as unconstitutional.

Wednesday’s session is the bill’s second reading. A third reading is likely next week after which
it will become law if approved.
The protests have been fuelled by years of rising fears that Beijing is prematurely eroding Hong Kong’s
cherished freedoms.
Beijing portrays the protests as a foreign-backed plot to destabilize the country , reeling from the impact of the C-virus pandemic .
Protesters say their rallies are the only way to voice opposition in a city without fully free elections.
In response to last year’s often violent protests, Beijing announced plans last week to enact legislation
banning secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference.
That law, which has yet to be published in full, will bypass the legislature and be inked in Beijing.
The move has alarmed investors and local politicians alike.

(With additional reporting by AFP) 

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