Hong Kong activists called on Friday for people to rise up against Beijing’s plans to impose national security legislation in the city, prompting alarm that the new laws could erode its freedoms through “force and fear”.
A proposed march at noon in the central financial district did not materialise after online calls were heeded only by a handful of activists and as riot police made their presence visible on the streets.
But new calls have emerged for flash mobs at night across the territory and activists including Joshua Wong plan to meet the press to announce “street action” later on Friday.
The security law plan hit financial markets on Friday, due to concerns the semiautonomous city’s status as a global financial hub was at risk, with Hong Kong stocks selling off as China’s parliament sat to discuss the new law.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 3.7% to a seven-week low, helping to pull down MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan 1.2%.
The proposed legislation could heighten tensions between Beijing and Washington, whose relationship is already frayed by trade disputes and reciprocal accusations over the pandemic.
U.S. President Donald Trump warned Washington would react “very strongly” if Beijing went ahead with the security law.