At least 53 activists were arrested in Hong Kong on Wednesday on the basis of the controversial security law that China introduced last summer.

According to foreign media, this is the largest action against the incumbent government since the new law was passed.

Among those arrested are well-known leaders of the democratic movement, including some former opposition parliamentarians.

The Democratic Party reports on its Facebook page that James To, Lam Cheuk Ting and Lester Shum, among others, have been arrested.

Police declined to comment.

The Democratic Party argues that the activists were arrested by police for running in an election to select democracy-minded candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Local authorities and Beijing had already warned that the election could be in breach of security law.

The proposed election participation by the Democratic Party is seen by the authorities as "an act of undermining the national security law," the Democratic Party said.

Hong Kong's parliamentary elections were postponed last year.

According to the government, this happened in connection with the corona pandemic.

Hong Kong's security forces say Wednesday's action was necessary because detainees planned to overthrow the government.

It was added that "the Hong Kong government will never allow undermining activities".

More than a thousand agents were involved.

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China arrests Hong Kong activists on controversial security law

American lawyer also arrested

In addition to dozens of opposition members, an American has also been arrested on suspicion of violating national security law, Hong Kong public broadcaster

RTHK

reported on Wednesday

.

It concerns lawyer John Clancey, who works for a law firm that regularly intervenes in human rights cases.

Clancey also chairs the Asian Human Rights Commission and is associated with the pro-democratic opposition in Hong Kong.

Beijing enacted a new national security law in June for the recalcitrant former British crown colony.

That law criminalizes everything that is seen by China as separatist or undermining.

Cooperation with foreign powers and conspiracy can also result in a life sentence.

Western countries and human rights organizations strongly condemned the new law, calling it an attempt by Beijing to crack down on the Hong Kong opposition.

Since the introduction of the security law, several countries have introduced sanctions against Hong Kong.

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Hong Kong activists plead guilty: 'show the value of freedom'

See also: What is the controversial China law that makes Hong Kongers so angry?