Vancouver [Canada], May 25 (ANI): A large number of people gathered outside the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver and across the road on Sunday to protest a proposed security law that would crackdown on the Hong Kong independence movement.
The protesters were holding banners like "No to Communist China's unconstitutional National Security Law for Hong Kong" and `Beijing Lied, People Died' and `Say no to totalitarianism'.
The protest was organised by a Chinese pro-democracy group that has been rallying against the Chinese government and its control over Hong Kong, a special administrative region governed by China but with its own legislature and law-making power.
The local media, Vancouver Sun, quoted Mabel Tung, the organiser of the protest, as saying that the new security law would likely be approved this week, without consulting the Hong Kong legislature, and would "take away a lot of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly."Tung said Sunday's protest abided by B.C. Ministry of Health's COVID-19 social distancing rules, with each protester wearing a mask and standing on a marked-out spot that was six-feet away from the next spot.
She added that her group's last protest was in January in downtown Vancouver and opposed the Chinese government's now-aborted plan to introduce a law that would allow people from Hong Kong to be deported to mainland China if they were accused of a crime.
The Vancouver protest came hours after protesters in Hong Kong clashed with riot police in busy downtown areas, leading to water cannons and tear gas being deployed. At least 180 people were arrested, mostly for illegal assembly.
It was the largest demonstration since coronavirus swept through the city in January.
According to Vancouver Sun columnist Daphne Bramham, the draft law is expected to be rubber-stamped by the Chinese parliament this week, and would supplant Hong Kong's own security lawmaking acts of secession, subversion (undermining the authority of the central government), terrorism or interference by foreign forces in Hong Kong criminal acts under Chinese law and tried in China's courts.
Canada, Australia and Britain denounced the bill in a joint statement on Friday.
Maria Tam, vice chairwoman of the Chinese parliamentary committee that oversees Hong Kong's law, said in an interview on Saturday that she didn't believe the bill -- that would punish anyone who disrespects China's national anthem -- would be misused.
"The Hong Kong opposition has always reaped the benefit of striking fear in the minds of the Hong Kong people and asking them not to trust China," Tam said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who spoke in Beijing on Sunday, said the laws would "not affect the high degree of autonomy Hong Kong enjoys, nor will it affect the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents, nor will it affect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong," Yi said.
"Everyone should have more confidence in the future of Hong Kong, and do not need to worry too much," he added. (ANI)