Hundreds of people gathered outside a Hong Kong court on Monday in support of some of the region's best-known dissidents who have been charged with subversion. The international community spoke out in defense of the 47 activists, who are facing charges of conspiracy to commit subversion under the China-imposed National Security Law (NSL). US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called for the immediate release of the leading activists, as western powers accused China of stripping the freedoms and autonomy it promised the people of Hong Kong ahead of the territory's 1997 handover from the British. The UK joined the global outcry as it said the charges were "deeply disturbing." The European Union, who had officials outside the court in Hong Kong trying to get inside for Monday's hearing, said the charges showed the law was being used to target political resistance, rather than threats to national security.
China's foreign ministry on Monday rejected the claims and said it "resolutely supports Hong Kong police... in upholding national security as well as Hong Kong's security and stability." China is battling to quell dissent in semi-autonomous Hong Kong after members of the population hit the streets in 2019 as part of sustained pro-democracy protests.
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