On the morning of May 27, 2020, skirmishes between Hong Kong police and protestors broke out during day-long demonstrations against a bill that criminalizes insults to China's national anthem. Within hours, the peaceful protests evolved into mass uprisings challenging a national security law that would erode Hong Kong's autonomy and forcibly bring the city closer to Beijing. Roughly 350 people were arrested as of 9:30 PM (GMT+8), with riot police adopting a zero tolerance approach that utilized kettling tactics, rubber bullets, random searches, militarized checkpoints, tear gas, and pepper spray.
A major police presence can be seen along road leading to Hong Kong's Legislative Council building, where debates on the anthem law are taking place. The MTR railway system, similar to subway systems in the United States, has been encompassed by checkpoints manned by police in riot gear. At these temporary installations, young people are being targeted with random searches, as this demographic is the most likely to protest the authoritarian actions of the Chinese government.
The protests come a day before China's National People’s Congress is expected to pass the national security law, effectively ending the independence of Hong Kong. President Trump warned China yesterday that if the piece of legislation was imposed on Hong Kong, swift action on the part of the American government would follow. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian shrugged off the threat, saying, "if there is anyone bent on harming China’s interests, China will have to take all necessary measures to fight back."
Mass protests in Hong Kong against Beijing began in June 2019, when activists called attention to the central governments increasing interference in city affairs. With the passing of the national security law tomorrow, one thing is for certain: Hong Kong as the western world knows it will be gone forever.
Update (5/27/2020 - 11:12 CDT)
Secretary of State Pompeo has reported to Congress that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China. This is a massive step that will undoubtedly impact the US-Sino relationship.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.