Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people Wednesday during protests less than a day after China enacted a national security law for the autonomous territory.
Thousands of protesters gathered downtown Wednesday for a rally marking the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from the United Kingdom, and were met with riot police deploying pepper spray and pellet rounds, Reuters reported. The police made several arrests as crowds reportedly chanted “resist till the end.”
China’s largely rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, enacted a national security law Tuesday that would subordinate parts of Hong Kong’s Basic Law to mainland China’s laws. The law would also allow state-security agencies from mainland China to override Hong Kong’s local government and laws on matters of national security.
Many of Hong Kong’s pro-autonomy and pro-democracy demonstrations, which have occurred in the city for over a year, would be considered illegal under the new law, according to CNBC. (RELATED: KOLB: Hong Kong’s Future Is High Stakes For The West)
During confrontations between protestors and police Wednesday, the police held up banners citing provisions of the law, Reuters reported. “You are displaying flags or banners/chanting slogans/or conducting yourselves with an intent such as secession or subversion,” one of the police banners warned.
Hong Kong police stated in a tweet Wednesday that around 370 people had been arrested, of which 10 people were arrested specifically for violating the national security law. The move marks the first round of arrests since the provision was added to Hong Kong’s Basic Law.
The national security law has been condemned by the United States, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcing earlier this month that Hong Kong’s preferential trade status would no longer be recognized. The United Kingdom, which formerly administered Hong Kong, has also denounced the law.