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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Thousands Rally for Subversion Law

HONG KONG -- More than 10,000 Hong Kong residents rallied in support of a controversial anti-subversion law Sunday, hitting back at critics who say it will roll back freedoms and rights.

Waving miniature flags, they broke into patriotic songs, clapping and cheering as prominent pro-China politicians spoke out in favor of the law.

"The country's security is everybody's responsibility!" they chanted, sitting cross-legged in the former British colony's Victoria Park.

The demonstration involved trade unions, political parties, schools, civic and grassroots groups and followed a massive march last Sunday by more than 60,000 people who denounced the legislation as undemocratic.

Hong Kong's constitution requires it to enact the law, which Beijing is eager to see introduced to keep hostile, foreign forces from using the territory as a base to subvert the mainland.

Its passage though the mainly pro-China legislature is guaranteed.

Under the plan, people can be jailed for life for treason, sedition, subversion of and secession from the mainland.

The planned legislation has spooked many in this Asian business hub, including its media and financial sectors.

Hong Kong rights groups fear it may be used by authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong against anyone, compromising the freewheeling ways of life the territory was allowed when it was handed back to China in 1997.

The government has repeatedly said the law will not be used to repress political dissent and that legal concepts from the communist mainland will not be used to curb rights.

Some rally participants were firmly behind the law.

"I support, it will definitely not affect freedoms and rights. This law is good for the country," said Yu Hang, 78.

Others were not so sure.

"I was picked by my school to come here. I guess I could not say no," said a 17-year-old student. Her classmate did not lift her eyes from a hand-held computer game.

Organizers said there were 40,000 participants at the rally although police estimated the number at 16,000.

According to results of a recent survey of more than 600 local journalists, 56.2 percent said the subversion law would affect their work and 10 percent said they would quit the job when the law is passed.