Hong Kong police fired tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons as thousands of protesters rallied against proposed security measures aimed at tightening Beijing's grip on the semi-autonomous territory.
Anti-government protesters react from tear gas during a march against Beijing's plans to impose national security legislation in Hong Kong, China May 24, 2020.
As the city government sought to give reassurances over the new laws, police conducted stop-and-search operations in Causeway Bay and warned people not to violate a ban on gatherings of more than eight.
Earlier in the afternoon, prominent activist Tam Tak-chi was arrested during the protest for what police said was unauthorized assembly.
In Beijing, the annual session of China's legislature is expected to ram through a law to prevent and punish any acts of secession, subversion or terrorism in the city that threaten national security.
Commentators in the city said the announcement marked the end of Hong Kong's promised autonomy under the "one country, two systems" formula. According to National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wouldn't be able to certify Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, which would lead to sanctions on both.
In this September 19, 2017, photo, Chris Patten, Hong Kong's last British governor, listens to questions at The Foreign Correspondents' Club to promote his new book in Hong Kong.
"As far as I know, the legislation is ready, which will be passed in the next meeting of the NPC Standing Committee", Kennedy Wong Ying-ho, a member of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and solicitor in the Supreme Court of Hong Kong, told the tabloid.
There have been words of condemnation from the global community at China's disregard for the internationally recognized Sino-British joint declaration that guarantees Hong Kong's autonomy until 2049.
Widespread protests in the city of 7.4 million people have lasted almost a year, following a now-axed proposal that would have allowed the extradition of Hong Kong citizens to mainland China for alleged criminal activity.
However, Evan Fowler, a fifth generation Hong Konger and founder of Hong Kong Free Press, said the move was "essentially a symbolic gesture". "And it does not affect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong", he said.
Downing Street has already condemned China's power grab, while Donald Trump has warned the USA will "act strongly" if Beijing goes through with the move.
"That would be a tragedy for the people of Hong Kong, but it will also be very bad for China".
Beijing is also planning security legislation for Hong Kong, which Li said will provide a "sound" legal system and enforcement mechanisms but which critics say could curb autonomy in the city.
China's army already has a garrison in Hong Kong but soldiers have not intervened in the protests, though the city's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, authorises local officials to request military help to protect public order.
"Can businessmen tell Hong Kong people, why are there more US companies, USA businessmen and USA investments in mainland China than Hong Kong?" he wrote in a Facebook post.
"As long as the USA dares to play its cards", the editorial said, "China will play the game without hesitation".
Forces opposing China and sowing troubles in Hong Kong have incited the "burn with us" mentality and committed shocking crimes of violence, which seriously challenged the bottom line of the "one country, two systems" principle and seriously undermined China's sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity. "But then, I don't think there's any alternatives", Mr Chan said.
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