China has appointed a hard-line figure as head of its new security agency in Hong Kong. Zheng Yanxiong is best known for his role in dealing with a protest over a land dispute in the southern Chinese village of Wukan.
The new agency, answering directly to Beijing, is being set up to enforce a draconian security law passed this week in Hong Kong. Opponents of the law say it erodes the territory’s freedoms. The law targets secession, subversion and terrorism with punishments of up to life in prison. Several leading pro-democracy activists have stepped down from their roles and one of them, one-time student leader and local legislator Nathan Law, has fled the territory.
Separately, one of 10 people arrested using the new law during protests on Wednesday has become the first to be charged under it. Hundreds were detained during the clashes. The motorcyclist, accused of riding into a group of police carrying a flag calling for the liberation of Hong Kong, was charged with inciting secession and terrorism.
Beijing has dismissed criticism of the law, saying it is necessary to stop the type of pro-democracy protests seen in Hong Kong during much of 2019.