Tony Chung is a 19-year-old Hong Kong activist who has been vocal against China’s enforcement of the National Security Law in the city. The HK activist was detained recently by the Chinese regime under the same law and is currently facing secession charges. Chung wanted to enter the local U.S. embassy and seek asylum.
According to the UK-based activist group Friends of Hong Kong, four other activists had entered the UN mission together with Chung. However, the consulate firmly rejected their entry and asked them to leave the compound. One of the people who entered was actually a U.S. citizen who was furious about how he was treated by the home country. A U.S. State Department spokesperson noted that asylum can only be requested once a person arrives in America and not U.S. consulates in other nations.
Three of the arrested people, including Chung, were identified as former members of Studentlocalism, a group that used to actively promote the independence of Hong Kong. The three people, aged between 17 and 21 years old, were arrested for posting secessionist comments on the internet, money laundering, and conspiring to publish seditious content. The Hong Kong branch of Studentlocalism was apparently disbanded after the National Security Law was imposed by Beijing.
However, Chung and others were still arrested by the police who claim that they continued to promote Hong Kong’s independence, a crime that can get the trio a jail term of 10 years. Chung earlier stated that life in Hong Kong had become tough after the security law was passed. The activist pointed out that he was unable to talk and act in a free manner anymore and had to always worry about crossing red lines. Chung was denied bail and will remain in police custody until January 7th when a court hearing is due.
Joshua Rosenzweig, the head of Amnesty International’s China Team, called Chung’s arrest politically motivated. “The charges brought against Tony Chung once again expose the Hong Kong government’s disdain for freedom of expression and dissent… Tony Chung has been targeted solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and he should be released immediately and unconditionally, and all charges against him dropped,” Rosenzweig said, as reported by The Epoch Times. In October, Hong Kong police had arrested 9 people who were accused of helping 12 activists flee the city by arranging for their transportation. The activists were trying to get to Taiwan but were eventually held in criminal detention.
Snitching on neighbors
To make things tough for pro-democracy activists, the Hong Kong police have launched a hotline that will receive calls from citizens who report breaches in the national security law. This would essentially turn every single Hong Kong citizen into a potential spy for the Chinese government and activists will be more likely to get caught for their ‘crimes’. People can send information such as images, audio, or video files through email, text, or WeChat.
The hotline will apparently not collect any personal info of the caller who reports on the breaches. Rights groups have expressed concern over this program. Maya Wang, Senior China Researcher at Human Rights Watch, pointed out that people might misuse this hotline to punish those with whom they have a grudge.