Opponents fear the law will bring mainland-style political oppression to a business hub supposedly guaranteed freedoms and autonomy for 50 years after its 1997 handover from Britain.
“First (Beijing) loses the hearts and minds of Hong Kong’s people and then it seeks to force them to be loyal,” said Kong Tsung-gan, an activist who has published three books on the protest movement.
“This is a long-term struggle, the Communist Party is upping the ante, and Hong Kong people will have to be willing to suffer and sacrifice much more than they have up to now to see their way through,” Kong said.
Over the last year around 9,000 people have been arrested and more than 1,700 people charged, but by the time the deadly coronavirus hit the city in January, the protest movement was already on the back foot.
The virus has made any protest effectively illegal, with emergency laws banning gatherings of more than eight people even though local transmissions have been virtually eradicated.
Still, protests have bubbled up again since the security law plans were announced — including tens of thousands defying a ban on a June 4 gathering to mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown.
by Su Xinqi and Jerome Taylor