Books by pro-democracy figures have been removed from Hong Kong’s public libraries following a controversial new security law.
The works will be examined to see if they violate the new law, said the authority that manages the libraries.
Legislation targets secession, subversion and terrorism with sentences of up to life in prison.
Opponents say it erodes the freedoms of the territory as a semi-autonomous region of China. Beijing rejects this.
Hong Kong’s sovereignty was returned to China by Britain in 1997 and certain rights were supposed to be guaranteed for at least 50 years under the “one country, two systems” agreement.
Since the security law came into force on Tuesday, several prominent pro-democracy activists have resigned. One of them – former student leader and local legislator Nathan Law – fled the territory.
At least nine books have become unavailable or marked as “under review,” according to the South China Morning Post newspaper. They include books written or co-written by Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy activist and pro-democracy politician Tanya Chan.
On Saturday, Wong tweeted that the new law “imposes a continental-style censorship regime” in Hong Kong, calling it “a step away from … the actual banning of books.”
Beijing has rejected critics of the law, saying there is a need to stop the kind of mass pro-democracy protests seen in Hong Kong for much of 2019, which sometimes exploded in very violent clashes between protesters and police.
- Why People Are Afraid of New Hong Kong Law
- A few minutes after the new law, the voices stop
He dismissed complaints from the UK and other Western countries that he would violate the guarantees he made to protect Hong Kong’s unique freedoms as interference in its internal affairs.
Fear and uncertainty everywhere
By Danny Vincent, BBC News, Hong Kong
Hong Kong was promised certain political freedoms for 50 years after the transfer. Rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and an independent judicial system are guaranteed to him.
For many Hong Kong residents, the national security law represents an untimely end to these freedoms.
Supporters say the law will help restore order after a year of protests. But critics say it is used to criminalize opposition in Beijing.
The removal of political books from public libraries would have been unimaginable just a week ago. In Hong Kong today, business owners are withdrawing messages of support for the protest movement from their premises, fearing that they may be interpreted as attempts to incite subversion.
So far, 10 people have been arrested for allegedly violating the new law. But fear and uncertainty are widespread. Protesters are now asking demonstrators to hold up blank placards during the marches. They fear that their words will lead to life imprisonment.
What is security law?
The law is vast and gives Beijing powers to shape life in Hong Kong that it has never had before. The law incites hatred against the Chinese central government and offenses against the regional government of Hong Kong.
It also allows for closed trials, wiretapping of suspects and the possibility of suspects being tried on the Chinese mainland.
Acts including damage to public transport facilities – which often occurred during the 2019 protests – can be considered terrorism.
Online freedom is also a concern, as Internet service providers may be required to hand over data at the request of the police.
Hong Kong’s new security law