With Mass Arrests, Beijing Exerts an Increasingly Heavy Hand in Hong Kong

Legislators are “granted the right to disapprove budgets introduced by the government,” Civil Human Rights Front, a pro-democracy group, said. “Through the primary election, the candidates only exercised their rights to debate their political stance, and the electors had the freedom to elect those who are in their favor.”

But Mr. Tong, the cabinet member, said that those rights could not infringe on national security. “On the face of it,” he said, it is the right of lawmakers to veto legislation, “but if you think more about it, it is not.”

The willful vetoing of proposals without really considering them would amount to a breach of lawmakers’ duties, he added.

Officials have indicated that their work is far from finished. A senior police superintendent told reporters on Wednesday that officers might make more arrests in connection with the primary election. The Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government, Beijing’s official arm in Hong Kong, called for vigorous enforcement of the law.

“Only when Hong Kong’s national security law is fully and accurately implemented, and firmly and strictly enforced, can national security, Hong Kong’s social stability and public peace be effectively guaranteed,” the office said in a statement.

Perhaps the clearest sign of Beijing’s desire to flex its power was in whom the authorities chose to arrest.

Until Wednesday, those arrested under the national security law had largely been prominent activists, or people openly demonstrating against the government, such as a man who collided into police officers on a motorcycle while at a rally, or students who the police said had shouted pro-independence slogans.

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