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hong kong security law

Activists' books are disappearing from Hong Kong's public libraries

Despite China's assurances that freedom of speech would be protected in Hong Kong under the recently-passed national security law, there are already signs of censorship.

Online records show books written by prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activists like Joshua Wong or pro-democracy Tanya Chan are no longer available in the city's public libraries. Hong Kong's Leisure and Cultural Services Department said Sunday it will "review whether certain books that violate the stipulations" of the law, which aims to root out secessionist activity, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces following several months of anti-government, pro-democracy protests in the city. It's not clear how many books are under review, and Reuters notes two works by Chinese political dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo were still available.

While China has maintained the legislation will only target a "very small minority" of "troublemakers," critics believe it will lead to widespread censorship and severely limit Hong Kong's autonomy. The removal of books from the library isn't the only example of those fears coming true — the day the law came into effect, a man was arrested for carrying a Hong Kong independence flag and on Friday the government declared the slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" illegal. Read more at Agence France Presse and Reuters.