Asia Minute: New Rules for Hong Kong’s Season of Remembrance

Jul 2, 2020

Chinese authorities wasted no time this week enforcing a new security law on the streets of Hong Kong.  Nearly 400 people were arrested in protests Wednesday. That includes ten charged under the new law, in a move that begins a different era for the city. 

June and July are times of remembrance in Hong Kong — injected with a spirit of protest.

It starts on June 4th.

In 1989, tanks of the Peoples’ Liberation Army rolled through Tiananmen Square in Beijing that night — crushing opposition and people. Ever since, the largest memorials of that violence are held each year in Hong Kong with a candlelight vigil.

This year, thousands ignored a ban on rallies — crowding into Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island last month and the streets of Mong Kok across the harbor in Kowloon.

July 1st is the other calendar-driven event — marking the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997.

This year, it was also the first full day of the new security law installed by Beijing. Of the nearly 400 arrests involving protestors, only ten were under the new law—a measure Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam called “the most important development in relations between the central government and Hong Kong since the handover.” 

One man was arrested yesterday for showing a flag urging “Hong Kong Independence” — a clear violation.

But speech and writing prohibitions and their enforcement appear more ambiguous – already sparking uncertainty for a city in uneasy transition.