Legislators are given “the right to reject government-introduced budgets,” said Civil Dem Rights Front, a pro-democracy group. “In the primaries, candidates only exercised their right to debate their political stance, and voters were free to choose those who were in their favor.”

But Mr Tong, the cabinet member, said these rights could not violate national security. “At first sight,” he said, “it is the legislature’s right to veto the legislation,” but when you think about it more it is not. “

Deliberately vetoing proposals without actually considering them would constitute a violation of the legislature’s obligations, he added.

Officials have indicated that their work is far from finished. A senior police chief told reporters Wednesday that officials may make further arrests in connection with the primaries. The Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government, Beijing’s official arm in Hong Kong, called for vigorous enforcement of the law.

“Only when the Hong Kong National Security Law is fully and accurately implemented and firmly and strictly enforced can national security, social stability and public peace in Hong Kong be effectively guaranteed,” the bureau said in a statement.

Perhaps the clearest sign of Beijing’s desire to exercise its power was who the authorities arrested.

As of Wednesday, those arrested under the national security law were mostly prominent activists or people who openly demonstrated against the government, such as a man who collided with police officers on a motorcycle at a rally, or students whom police said the police had called professional -Independence slogans.