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Canada updates travel advisory for Hong Kong after China enacts security law

Hong Kong marks handover to China after national security law begins
WATCH: Hong Kong marks handover to China after national security law begins

Canada has updated its travel advice for Hong Kong, saying the new national security legislation enacted by China could put Canadians at an increased risk.

In an update on its website, Travel Canada said as a result of the the new legislation, which came into effect on July 1, Canadians in Hong Kong “may be at an increased risk of arbitrary detention on national security grounds and possible extradition to mainland China.”

Read more: Chinese lawmakers pass controversial security law for Hong Kong

Meanwhile, a global travel advisory remains in place that urges Canadians to “avoid non-essential travel” outside of Canada “until further notice.”

The agency issued the advisory back in March, in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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Travel Canada said Canadians should also “exercise a high degree of caution” in Hong Kong, due to “ongoing large-scale demonstrations.”

“Political demonstrations of varying sizes are taking place regularly throughout Hong Kong,” the website reads. “They can quickly spread to surrounding areas, including those frequented by tourists.”

The agency warned that demonstrators and security forces have clashed, cautioning that police have often “reacted more swiftly and severely to unauthorized protests.”

“They have used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition as crowd control measures,” the advisory reads.

Pro-democracy protesters clash with police as China reviews controversial security bill
Pro-democracy protesters clash with police as China reviews controversial security bill

On Wednesday, demonstrators took to the streets of Hong Kong to march in opposition of the newly enacted legislation.

The demonstrations coincided with the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China.

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Chinese lawmakers approved the contentious security law on Tuesday. The legislation takes direct aim at some of the actions of anti-government protesters last year, in a move many see as Beijing’s boldest yet to erase the legal firewall between the semi-autonomous territory and the mainland’s authoritarian Communist Party system.

The text specifies that those who destroy government facilities and utilities would be considered subversive. Damaging public transportation facilities and arson would constitute acts of terrorism.

Read more: National security law for Hong Kong defended by China, criticized abroad

According to the new law, anyone who takes part in secessionist activities — either organizing or participating — will be in violation of the law, regardless of whether violence is used.

The national security legislation has garnered criticism from the international community, including from Canada.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, Canada and 26 other countries expressed their concerns to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

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In the statement, the signatory countries said China’s decision to make the law without the “direct participation” of Hong Kong’s people, legislature and judiciary “undermines ‘One Country, Two Systems.'”

“We urge the Chinese and Hong Kong Governments to reconsider the imposition of this legislation and to engage Hong Kong’s people, institutions and judiciary to prevent further erosion of the rights and freedoms that the people of Hong Kong have enjoyed for many years,” the statement reads.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has defended the legislation, saying the decision was “necessary and timely to maintain Hong Kong’s stability.”

—With files from The Associated Press