The Hong Kong police arrested 53 elected pro-democracy officials
and activists early Wednesday for their involvement in an informal
primary election, the largest roundup yet under the new national
security law imposed by Beijing to quash dissent.
The mass arrests — which included figures who had called for
aggressive confrontation with the authorities as well as those who
had supported more moderate tactics — underscored Hong Kong
officials’ efforts to weaken any meaningful opposition in the
city’s political institutions. The police also visited the offices
of at least one law firm and three news media organizations to
demand documents, broadening the burst of arrests that started
before sunrise and sent a chill through Hong Kong’s
already-demoralized opposition camp.
The moves suggested that the authorities were casting a wide net
for anyone who had played a prominent role in opposing the
government. The national security law, which the Chinese
government imposed in June, has been wielded as a powerful tool to
crack down on the fierce anti-Beijing protests that upended the
city for months. Since then, the Hong Kong authorities have
detained pro-democracy leaders, raided news media offices and
ousted opposition lawmakers.
No need to read too much into it.