CNN Journalist Pepper-Sprayed by Police While Covering Hong Kong Protests

A CNN journalist covering the national security protests in Hong Kong was among a crowd of people who were hit by pepper spray deployed by police.

Video posted on Twitter by fellow CNN reporter Will Ripley shows freelance worker Chermaine Lee receiving treatment while wearing a CNN branded helmet.

Images show police appearing to hit other journalists covering the protests with pepper spray.

"Hong Kong police have just fired pepper spray into a crowd that is assembled in Causeway Bay," Ripley tweeted.

"Journalist @chermainelee22 who is on our @CNN team, was hit. I know from experience, it feels absolutely dreadful. But she'll be ok."

#breaking Hong Kong police have just fired pepper spray into a crowd that is assembled in Causeway Bay. Journalist @chermainelee22 who is on our @cnn team, was hit. I know from experience, it feels absolutely dreadful. But she’ll be ok.

— Will Ripley (@willripleyCNN) July 1, 2020

Protests broke out in Hong Kong on the first day that the new national security law implemented by Beijing came into effect.

The law encompasses the offenses of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The vague definitions are accused of being similar to China's own laws to combat crimes of dissent.

The law also allows for suspects to be extradited to mainland China.

Critics have argued that the new laws aim to stifle anti-government dissent in Hong Kong following months of pro-democracy protests in the city and pave the way for the country to have full control over the semi-autonomous territory.

Beijing will also set up a new security office complete with its own law enforcement in Hong Kong, which will not come under the city's jurisdiction.

There are also fears that people who are not Hong Kong residents, or even present in the city at all, could still break the new laws and face extradition upon arrival.

A man became the first person arrested under the new law after he unfurled a Hong Kong Independence flag, which police say violates the new rules.

The new law came into effect at 11 p.m. local time Tuesday, on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of Honk Kong's handover from Britain to China.

U.S. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo was one of those who criticized China for imposing the new legislation.

"The Chinese Communist Party's decision to impose draconian national security legislation on Hong Kong destroys the territory's autonomy and one of China's greatest achievements," Pompeo said in a statement.

"Hong Kong demonstrated to the world what a free Chinese people could achieve—one of the most successful economies and vibrant societies in the world.

"But Beijing's paranoia and fear of its own people's aspirations have led it to eviscerate the very foundation of the territory's success, turning 'One Country, Two Systems' into 'One Country, One System.'

"The CCP promised 50 years of freedom to the Hong Kong people, and gave them only 23," Pompeo added.

Joshua Rosenzweig head of Amnesty International's China Team, said the passing of the national security law is a "painful moment" for the people of Hong Kong and represents the "greatest threat to human rights" in the city's recent history.

"From now on, China will have the power to impose its own laws on any criminal suspect it chooses," Rosenzweig said. "The speed and secrecy with which China has pushed through this legislation intensifies the fear that Beijing has calculatingly created a weapon of repression to be used against government critics, including people who are merely expressing their views or protesting peacefully."

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Riot police (L) deploy pepper spray toward journalists (R) as protesters gathered for a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. DALE DE LA REY/Getty