At least 53 former lawmakers and activists have been detained in Hong Kong on Wednesday morning under a security law Beijing imposed in July.
Hong Kong Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said the accused, mostly from opposition groups, “tried to overthrow or seriously interfere with the government’s legal execution of duty,” the daily South China Morning Post reported.
Accusing the suspects of engaging in a “mutual destruction plan,” he said: “They aimed to get 35 or more seats in the Legislative Council through [a primary] so […] they could veto the government budget regardless of the actual content [and] create a situation in which the chief executive had to resign, and the government stopped functioning. This was to paralyse the government.”
The detained included 45 men and eight women aged 23 to 64.
The group has been accused of planning to win over 35 seats in the Hong Kong Legislative Council to form the government.
“They had a 10-step mutual destruction plan, in which they would mobilise mass-scale riots in streets, together with other actions to paralyse the society, coupled with international sanctions. The plan was to […] [using their words] ‘jump the cliff,'” Lee Ka-chiu said.
Hong Kong made the arrests under the highly-criticized National Security Law that was implemented by China in the semi-autonomous region in July 2020 after facing year-long protests in 2019 against the government over a now-discarded extradition bill.
The new law criminalizes anti-China sentiments in Hong Kong, which has continued to serve as a vibrant economic hub after the UK handed it over to Beijing in 1997.
It has drawn criticism within Hong Kong and in the international community, which Beijing has dismissed as “foreign intervention.”
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