HK mass rally planned to mark day of handover

HONG KONG: Hong Kong prepared yesterday for a huge protest against a proposed law many fear will curtail rights and freedoms, on the same day Chinese premier Wen Jiabao leads celebrations marking the anniversary of the city's reversion to Chinese rule. 

More than 100,000 people are expected to gather in what is likely to be the biggest rally seen since sovereignty of the former British colony reverted back to China on July 1, 1997. 

Wen told a gathering on Sunday that Beijing would continue its commitment to the “one country, two systems” policy under which Hong Kong was promised a high degree of autonomy for 50 years.  

Tsoi Yiu-cheong, a spokesman for the Civil Human Rights Front, a coalition of more than 40 pro-democracy, religious and rights groups that organised the mass rally, said Wen's pledge would not change the protest plans. 

There is mounting fear the proposed national security law banning treason, sedition, theft of state secrets and subversion, which Hong Kong is required to pass under Article 23 of the Basic Law its mini-constitution could stifle freedom of speech and strangle the free flow of information. The legislation is expected to be passed on July 9. – AFP  

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