Hong Kong police fire pepper pellets as hundreds rally against Beijing’s security law

Hong Kong riot police have made arrests and fired pepper pellets on Wednesday to disperse protesters in the city, as new national security laws proposed and national anthem bill by Beijing revived anti-government demonstrations.
At around 1pm, some protesters in Central occupied parts of Pedder Street, disrupting traffic in the area. This prompted the police to fire pepper pellets to disperse the crowd. Over in Causeway Bay, about 100 people were stopped and searched.
Police were also deployed to Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui, following calls for people to gather there to protest. Heavy police presence and searches in the morning had dented protesters’ initial plans to block roads and disrupt traffic.
Some drivers had tried to disrupt the traffic at the cross-harbour tunnel at about 8.30am by driving slowly but officers intercepted those vehicles concerned and diverted traffic.
Police officers cleared roadblocks in several areas after a group of “thugs” sought to disrupt traffic with nails and other debris, police said in a statement posted on Facebook.
“The police warn the mob to stop illegal activities immediately, otherwise they will be arrested,” it said.
Police said at least 290 people have been arrested in Causeway Bay, Central and Mong Kok for unauthorized assembly, among other things. Some were arrested for possessing offensive weapons including petrol bombs, screwdrivers and protest gear.
Police also surrounded the Legislative Council, where a bill was due to be debated that would criminalize disrespect of the Chinese anthem as tensions soar over perceived threats to the semi-autonomous city’s freedoms.
Beijing’s resolution on the national security law, to be passed on Thursday, does not amend the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s mini Constitution – but critics say it goes further, allowing Chinese security agencies to be set up in the territory to help with enforcement.
Beijing expanded the scope of the draft legislation to include organizations as well as individuals. It would cover not just behaviour or acts that endanger national security, but also activities.
In Washington, President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the United States would announce before the end of the week a strong response to the planned security legislation for Hong Kong. 
When asked at a news briefing if the response would include sanctions, he said: “No, it’s something you’re going to be hearing about… before the end of the week, very powerfully I think.”
Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka Shing on Wednesday defended the legislation by saying that “it is within each and every nation’s sovereign right to address its national security concerns.”
“We probably need not over-interpret it. Hopefully the proposed new law can allay concerns the central government has in Hong Kong and give rise to a positive outlook from there,” the 91-year-old billionaire said.