The first person convicted under Hong Kong’s new national security law was given nine years in prison for terrorism and inciting separatism, a clear sign from China of its commitment to crack down on the former British colony.
Former waiter Leon Tong Ying-kit, 24, was found guilty on Tuesday (27) by the Hong Kong High Court, where he was tried by the three ministers appointed by the local executive to deal with matters falling under the legislation.
He could face life imprisonment, but by sentencing him to nine years at a hearing this Friday (30), the message was given: even a minor act will be severely punished.
In Tong’s case, the offense sped up his motorcycle against three police officers who tried to prevent him from following during a protest on the first day the law came into effect, July 1 last year. .
This earned him eight years for terrorism. While carrying a flag with the slogan “Free Hong Kong, revolution in our time”, it took another six and a half years for secession. As part of the sentences are consecutive, the total was in nine years.
The remarks were present during the latest round of pro-democracy protests in the territory, which took place in the second half of 2019. In November of the same year, opponents in Beijing won the local elections.
Frightened by the scale of the acts, which brought down Honconian GDP and paralyzed the city-state, the Chinese counterattacked.
They identified US support for Democratic groups as an outside influence and drafted the new law, under which anything China considers secessionist, terrorist, or collusion with foreigners can lead to life in prison.
As a result, the Chinese intervened in the legislature, excluding MPs and causing the collective resignation of the opposition. Finally, with a new dictatorial police force installed to enforce the law, the electoral rules have changed, effectively preventing the candidacy of critics of the communist regime.
With this, the fundamental arrangement of the return of the territory by the United Kingdom, in 1997, after 156 years, was broken in the eyes of the critics. In it, political and economic freedoms would remain intact until at least 2047, in the “one country, two systems” scheme.
Today, only unregulated capitalism remains, although doubts remain about Hong Kong’s continued weight in Chinese foreign transactions under the new rules, which scare foreigners. Accommodations, as is normal in business and finance, can occur, however.
Activists, on the other hand, are struggling, as Tong’s case shows. Worse for them, China does not distinguish those who just want to keep Hong Kong semi-autonomous and with freedoms, as before, elements that advocate de facto separatism.
The law “is not only an instrument to terrorize critics of the government, it is a weapon that will be used to imprison them,” said an Amnesty International statement.
The Hong Kong and Chinese governments did not comment on the episode. Homeland Security Secretary Chris Tang celebrated, “If you say this slogan, you have to bear the consequences.
For Beijing, the law prevents unrest that harms business and the country’s sovereignty. The fact that Washington made the pro-democracy struggle in Hong Kong part of its Cold War 2.0 against China is used as evidence of inappropriate interference.
Tong, who was unable to testify in the case, spoke through attorney Lawrence Lau. “Stand firm, everyone like the athletes from Hong Kong,” he said, referring to the gold and silver medals won at the Tokyo Games.