TIME

Caught in the middle

THE PROTESTERS DIDN’T EXPECT TO BE BACK ON THE STREETS SO SOON.

Life in Hong Kong had only just started to resemble a new normal after the threat of the pandemic subsided. But there they were again on May 24, dressed in black, ready for the storm brewing. “This is a fresh hell,” says Sukie, 25, who asked to use only her nickname for safety reasons.

After almost a year of widespread, sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in the former British colony, China had announced sweeping new security measures that will prevent and punish any secession, subversion, terrorism or foreign interference in Hong Kong. Successive city leaders refrained from passing such a law in fear of demonstrations, and so Beijing bypassed the legislature to impose the bill itself. In the rest of China, these kinds of measures are regularly leveled to stifle dissent. The intent is clear, says Willy Lam, a political analyst at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Control is the No. 1 consideration.”

The law, which could be enacted by late June, is poised to curtail the liberties that set Hong Kong—long a conduit between East and West—apart

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