By Nuri Aydin
HONG KONG (AA) - Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest a plan by Beijing to impose a new national security law on the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
They gathered in the Causeway Bay and Wan Chai districts and chanted anti-government slogans, including "Stand with Hong Kong" and "Save Hong Kong."
Water cannon trucks and armored police vehicles were spotted around Causeway Bay and police in Wan Chai fired tear gas to break up the crowds.
Some 120 people were arrested, including prominent pro-democracy activist Tam Tak-chi.
Four police officers were also injured by bricks thrown by some of the protesters, according to officials.
A draft decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for Hong Kong was submitted to China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) for deliberation on Friday to change the territory’s long-term “defenseless” status.
"The increasingly notable national security risks in HKSAR [Hong Kong Specially Administered Region] have become a prominent problem," said Wang Chen, vice-chairman of China's Standing Committee of the NPC.
- US, Canada concerned about bill
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday slammed China's proposed national security legislation on Hong Kong, calling it "unilateral and arbitrary."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday also expressed his concern over the possibility of China cracking down on pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong, an autonomous region under China since 1997, had been witnessing protests since early 2019 against the Carrie Lam administration’s move to legalize extradition to mainland China.
The bill has now been dumped, but the street demonstrations left the city reeling, with international economic observers expressing concern over the business hub’s economic prospects.
*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin