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The arrest of Hong Kong activists is an assault on civil society | Louisa Lim and Ilaria Maria Sala

China is criminalising political moderates, in defiance of their overwhelming victory in direct elections

The arrest of 53 activists in Hong Kong on national security charges represents the purge of an entire generation of politicians. Police also demanded documents from three news organisations and for the first time arrested a foreign citizen – the US human rights lawyer John Clancey – on national security charges. These moves represent an assault on civil society the aim of which appears to be the destruction of the system that nurtured the type of political engagement that brought nearly 2 million people – almost a quarter of the population – out on to the streets in 2019.

Related: China ‘misled world’ on Hong Kong security law, says Dominic Raab

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