New Delhi: The Hong Kong police on Wednesday arrested as many as 200 people protesting on the first day after Beijing upended the freedom-restricting National Security Law in mainland Hong Kong.Also Read - China Evergrande: What Led To Debt Crisis and Why Thursday Is Crucial

Hong Kong, which was the freest Chinese city so far with a proud independent judiciary, was taken by the fist overnight when the Communist Party of China announced the previously secret law at 11 PM local time. Also Read - From Compulsory Leaves to Forced Resignations, How Countries Making COVID Vaccines Must For Citizens

The new security law restricts any kind of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion. This means that any person participating in anti-establishment demonstrations will be jailed up to life sentence. Also Read - Afghanistan Should Not Become Threat To Neighbouring Countries: PM Modi at 13th BRICS Summit

The China and Hong Kong governments, who celebrated the 23rd year anniversary of the latter’s handover from the United Kingdom today, have termed the new enactment “vital” to plug the gaping holes in security management.

Hundreds of people gathered in different locations in Causeway Bay and Wan Chai, some of them shouting “Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times” and “Hong Kong independence, the only way out” despite police warnings against unauthorised assemblies.

The police personnel used pepper spray on protesters there, and at least two more were receiving treatment from volunteer first-aiders after reportedly being hit.

During a briefing last evening, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam described the controversial National Security Law, the content of which was only released once it had been enacted, as “constitutional, lawful, sensible and reasonable”, calling it a “turning point to take Hong Kong out of the current impasse and to restore stability and order from the chaos.”

Notably, Hong Kong has been rocked by unprecedented pro-democracy protests for over a year that grew extremely violent in October and November last year. The entire international financial centre was virtually brought to a grinding halt. The protests had begun over a proposed extradition law by the Hong Kong administration sparking fear of extradition of locals to the Chinese mainland for prosecution.

However, it turned into a major pro-democracy movement with demands to elect their local officials without the Chinese interference.