Hong Kong’s leader said the city has returned to “stability” as thousands of security forces fanned out in the streets to put down any pro-democracy protests Thursday. During the traditional flag-raising ceremony Thursday to mark the anniversary of modern-day China’s founding in 1949, chief executive Carrie Lam praised the sweeping new security law imposed by Beijing that has chilled pro-democracy activity in the semi-autonomous city.“Over the past three months, the plain truth is…that stability has been restored to society while national security has been safeguarded,” Lam said about the law, which took effect in July.Police in riot gear blocked off parts of Hong Kong’s popular Causeway Bay shopping district in anticipation of a protest march called for by online activists.  Under the new security law, anyone in Hong Kong believed to be carrying out terrorism, separatism, subversion of state power or collusion with foreign forces could be tried and face life in prison if convicted.The new law was a response to the massive and often violent pro-democracy demonstrations that engulfed the financial hub in the latter half of last year.  The protests have tapered off since authorities imposed restrictions on large outdoor crowds due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

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