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HONG KONG — They descended before dawn, 1,000 police officers fanning out across Hong Kong to the homes and offices of opposition lawmakers, activists and lawyers. They whisked many off in police cars, often without telling relatives or friends where they were being taken.
Within a few hours on Wednesday, the Hong Kong police had arrested 53 people, searched 76 places and frozen $200,000 of assets in connection with an informal primary for the pro-democracy camp — all under the auspices of Beijing’s new national security law. In one swoop, the authorities rounded up not only some of the most aggressive critics of the Hong Kong government but also little-known figures who had campaigned on far less political issues, in one of the most forceful shows of power in the Chinese Communist Party’s continuing crackdown on the city.
The message was clear: Beijing is in charge.