At least 180 people were arrested, several were sent to the hospital, and police fired off tear gas over the weekend in Hong Kong as protesters raged against a proposed so-called "national security law" to be imposed on the city by mainland China, according to the South China Morning Post

One middle-aged woman was reported to be in critical condition amid the chaos.

The demonstrations were reminiscent of the massive protests in Hong Kong last year, before the coronavirus pandemic put much of the region on lockdown in early 2020.

But many defied current Covid-19 regulations, according to Reuters, to reject the looming law, as people crowded the a shopping area and reportedly yelled, “Hong Kong independence, the only way out.”

"I think what we can all be proud of are the people of Hong Kong who have taken to the streets to show all of us who enjoy democracy and the rule of law in our countries how precious that is," said U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien earlier on Sunday morning ET on NBC News' "Meet the Press."

"They’re out in the streets this weekend, demonstrating that they want to be free people, that they want to elect their own leaders and have the right to worship as they see fit and earn a living the way they see fit," O'Brien said, noting the significance of the city as a global financial center.

O'Brien also warned the U.S. could impose sanctions on China, saying that the Communist Party of China had promised Great Britain decades ago that Hong Kong would have a degree of autonomy and would "maintain their way of life through 2047." 

"So now, 27 years before that deadline, it looks like with this national security law, they're going to basically take over Hong Kong. And if they do, under the 1992 Hong Kong Policy Act and the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, Secretary (Mike) Pompeo would likely be unable to certify that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy. And if that happens, there will be sanctions that will be imposed on Hong Kong and China. It's hard to see how Hong Kong could remain the Asian financial center that it's become if China takes over."