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Tension is surging in Hong Kong as police begin arresting citizens under the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP's) new national security law.
The first arrests took place on Wednesday, the 23rd anniversary of the Handover, when the United Kingdom returned administrative control of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997.
Seeking to destroy Hong Kong's sovereignty and assume total control, the CCP's imposed security law prescribes harsh penalties, like life imprisonment, for vaguely defined crimes.
Protests erupted Wednesday in the district of Causeway Bay, but were met instantly by riot police firing pepper spray, deploying water cannons and taking people into custody.
Meanwhile, Liáng Zhènyīng, Hong Kong's former chief executive, is offering bounties of up to $1 million Hong Kong dollars, roughly $130,000 U.S. dollars, for any information on "national security law offenders" or "anyone who has fled the city."
Despite the crackdown, one of two living Chinese cardinals, John Tāng Hàn, current apostolic administrator of the Hong Kong diocese, thinks religious liberty remains safe, saying, "I personally believe that the national security law will have no effect on religious freedom, because Article 32 of the Basic Law guarantees that we have freedom of religion ... ."
But the other living Chinese cardinal, Joseph Zen, sees the situation differently, saying, "There is no more 'one country, two systems.' [China] didn't dare to say it in those exact words, but the fact is there."
In February, Cardinal Zen told Church Militant the 2018 Vatican-China accord was a "total sellout" of the underground Catholic Church and lamented that Pope Francis had remained silent about Hong Kong facing so many difficulties.
Zen: "In these last five or six months, with all these things happening in Hong Kong, he [Francis] didn't say a word in support of the people in Hong Kong. So it's terrible ... terrible."
As the Vatican is poised to renew the Vatican-China deal in September, Pope Francis still has yet to offer the people of Hong Kong a word of support or comfort.