Following Hong Kong’s protest-turned-riot on the night of February 8, that started as an effort by anti-Beijing and anti-government activists to defend hawkers from eviction, some Hong Kong government officials have called for a domestic security law to be reintroduced.
The protests started when localists, reportedly lead by the group Hong Kong Indigenous, surrounded unlicensed snack hawkers to try to prevent authorities from shutting them down. Ongoing controversy has followed government regulation of vendors at night markets over the past few years. Protesters started throwing things around midnight, according to the South China Morning Post‘s timeline, and then police fired warning shots at 2 am, but the riot only intensified, and fires were lit on the street starting at 4 am.
China’s central government labeled the localist protesters “separatists,” using a word they have used to refer to Xinjiang and Tibetan independence activists.
Now some government officials and pro-establishment activists are calling for renewal of an Article 23 domestic security law that was pulled in 2003 after mass protests. The protests led to the proposal, so-named because it is allowed for in Hong Kong’s Basic Law under Article 23, being withdrawn from the Legislative Council and then Secretary for Security Regina Ip resigning.