The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy.
Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests.
China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting opinions such as calls for independence or autonomy.
At his court appearance, Wong, 23, remained unbowed.
“We still have to let the world know that now is the time to stand with Hong Kong,” he told reporters. “They can’t ignore and silence the voice of Hong Kong people. With the belief of Hong Kong people to fight for freedom, we will never give up and surrender to Beijing.”
Separately yesterday, the top US diplomat in Hong Kong said that it is a “tragedy” to use the new legislation to chip away at “fundamental freedoms” in the territory and create an “atmosphere of coercion and self-censorship.”
“Using the national security law to erode fundamental freedoms and to create an atmosphere of coercion and self-censorship is a tragedy for Hong Kong,” US Consul-General to Hong Kong and Macau Hanscom Smith told reporters. “Hong Kong has been successful precisely because of its openness and we’ll do everything we can to maintain that.”
Any person taking part in activities, such as shouting slogans or holding up banners and flags calling for the territory’s independence, is contravening the law regardless of whether violence is used.
Critics see it as Beijing’s boldest step yet to erase the legal firewall between the former British colony and the mainland’s authoritarian Chinese Communist Party system.
Since the law went into effect, the Hong Kong government has also specified that popular protest slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” has separatist connotations and is thus criminalized.
A 23-year-old man, Tong Ying-kit (唐英杰), has become the first person in Hong Kong to be charged under the new legislation for allegedly driving a motorcycle into a group of police officers while bearing a flag with the slogan.
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