A woman reacts to pepper spray as police were clearing protesters in Hong Kong on Wednesday, July 1.
Dale De La Rey/AFP/Getty Images

New security law sparks protests in Hong Kong

Updated 7:52 AM ET, Thu July 2, 2020

A woman reacts to pepper spray as police were clearing protesters in Hong Kong on Wednesday, July 1.
Dale De La Rey/AFP/Getty Images

For a second summer in a row, political unrest has returned to the streets of Hong Kong.

Hundreds of protesters were arrested in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay on Wednesday, July 1, after China's central government imposed a national security law over the semi-autonomous city. Protesters and police also clashed in May and June after the security law was first proposed.

The new law dramatically broadens the powers of local and mainland authorities to investigate, prosecute and punish dissenters.

Critics say the law has stripped Hong Kong of its autonomy and precious civil and social freedoms. The Chinese and local governments argue it's necessary to curb unrest and uphold mainland sovereignty.

Last summer, anti-government protests were sparked by strong opposition to a proposed extradition law. Critics feared the bill would allow citizens to be sent across the border into mainland China. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam withdrew the bill in September but refused to give ground on four other demands, which include greater democracy for the city and an independent commission into police conduct.