Pro-democracy protesters clash with Hong Kong police over Beijing's planned security law

Protesters clash with police in Hong Kong
Protesters clash with police in Hong Kong 01:50

Last Updated May 24, 2020 6:36 PM EDT

Tokyo — Protesters clashed with police over Beijing's plan to impose a tough new security law. There's fear it would crush freedoms in the former British territory.

Hong Kong police launched tear gas at angry pro-democracy protesters on Sunday and fired a water cannon to disperse the crowds.

Many held umbrellas to protect themselves as most chanted anti-government and anti-China slogans.

Hong Kong protests
Anti-government protesters react from tear gas during a march against Beijing's plans to impose national security legislation in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, May 24, 2020. Reuters

Opposition to Beijing's new national security legislation erupted in Hong Kong's legislature, soon after the news first broke.

At a press conference, Hong Kong's pro-Beijing and unpopular chief executive Carrie Lam said the new law would "improve the legal system and safeguard national security" in the former British colony.

The mass protests — both peaceful and violent — that rocked the city for much of 2019 are what Beijing intends to stop — by banning acts of treason, secession and subversion.

For many, the new laws symbolize the death knell of the "one country, two systems" principle — Beijing's promise to Great Britain to leave Hong Kong semi-autonomous until 2047. 

"Technically there is nothing we can do to challenge it — it's Mother's Order," Claudia Mo, a Hong Kong legislator and pro-democracy leader, told CBS News.

Washington is now condemning Beijing's plan as a crack down on Hong Kong — but Beijing is ignoring those demands, saying some in America are pushing U.S.-China relations to a "new Cold War."

Hong Kong protests
Anti-government protesters run away from tear gas during a march against Beijing's plans to impose national security legislation in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, May 24, 2020. Reuters
  • Ramy Inocencio

    Ramy Inocencio is the Asia correspondent for CBS News, based in Beijing.