In the 39th month since the national security law was imposed on Hong Kong, trials involving people from all walks of life continued. Students who expressed sympathy for a man who took his life after stabbing a police officer were taken into custody pending sentence, while a young mainland Chinese student was jailed for sedition over planning to display a large banner relating to the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.

national day north point
North Point decked out with Chinese national flags on the 73rd anniversary of the founding of China on October 1, 2022. File photo: HKFP.

As Hong Kong prepared to celebrate China’s National Day on October 1, more family members of overseas activists were taken for questioning, as over 100 groups involved in further education were urged to safeguard national security.

Former student leaders in custody

Four former student leaders at the University of Hong Kong were remanded in custody while they await sentencing next month. They pleaded guilty to inciting others to wound by expressing sympathy for Leung Kin-fai, who took his own life after wounding a police officer in July 2021.

District Judge Adriana Noelle Tse Ching revoked the bail of Kinson Cheung, Charles Kwok, Chris Todorovski and Anthony Yung on September 20, after she heard their mitigation pleas  in the case concerning statements made at a student union council meeting on July 7, 2021.

HKU student leaders Kinson Cheung Yung Chung-hei District Court
Former HKU Student Union Council chairperson Kinson Cheung hugs former University of Hong Kong student leader Yung Chung-hei outside Hong Kong’s District Court in Wan Chai on September 20, 2023. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The student body passed a resolution to mourn Leung’s death in Causeway Bay on July 1, 2021, when the city marked 24 years since its return to Chinese rule.

Mainland Chinese student jailed for sedition

A mainland Chinese postgraduate student was jailed for six months after she pleaded guilty to an attempted seditious act.

Tiananmen Square Massacre Pillar of Shame HKUSU
The University of Hong Kong Student’ Union would clean the Pillar of Shame every year before the statue was torn down in December 2021. File Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Law student Zeng Yuxuan, 23, was jailed on September 12. She admitted planning to unfurl a nine-metre long vertical banner with an image of the Pillar of Shame statue on it from a footbridge in Causeway Bay on June 4, the 34th anniversary of Beijing’s crackdown on student-led demonstrations in China.

The statue, which stood on the University of Hong Kong campus for decades, was created by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt to commemorate those who died when the People’s Liberation Army dispersed pro-democracy protesters on June 4, 1989. In May, it was seized by police as evidence for an “inciting subversion” probe.

Reporter sentenced to jail

Ronson Chan, the head of Hong Kong’s largest journalist group, was found guilty of obstructing a police officer while reporting last September and was sentenced to five days in prison before being granted bail pending appeal.

Ronson Chan HKJA Stand News Channel C
Hong Kong Journalists Association chairperson Ronson Chan outside the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on September 25, 2023. Photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP.

The veteran journalist and chair of the Hong Kong Journalists Association appeared at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on September 25. He denied obstructing a police officer and an alternative charge of obstructing a public officer.

More family of overseas activists questioned

National security police took the father-in-law, mother-in-law, and brother-in-law of self-exiled democrat Ted Hui from their home in Yuen Long for questioning on September 12.

Hui is among the eight overseas activists wanted by Hong Kong national security police, with authorities offering a bounty of HK$1 million for each of the democrats.

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Ted Hui in the UK. File Photo: May James/HKFP.

After issuing arrest warrants in early July, the police have several times taken family members and friends of the overseas activists for questioning. By late August, at least 32 family members and associates had been questioned.

UK on the state of Hong Kong

Hong Kong authorities had expanded the use of the national security law “beyond genuine national security concerns,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a regular report on the state of the city on September 19. Cleverly aslo expressed disappointment over Beijing’s “ongoing state of non-compliance” with an agreement signed by China and Britain in 1984.

The Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly
The Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. File photo: Rory Arnold / No 10 Downing Street.

The Hong Kong government expressed its “strong” disapproval of the report, saying it “firmly rejected the groundless attacks, slanders and smears against the HKSAR” contained in the document.

Hong Kong consulate staff details

The Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry told all consulates in Hong Kong to pass on the job titles, residential addresses and identification details of all locally-employed staff in Hong Kong.

West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts
Dutch Deputy Consul General Rogier Hekking (left) and other representatives from foreign consulates in Hong Kong queuing outside the West Kowloon Law Courts Building on April 16, 2021 ahead of the sentencing of seven democrats convicted of organising an unauthorised assembly in 2019. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

The letter, sent by the Hong Kong government at the request of the commissioner’s office and obtained by HKFP, gave each mission until October 18 to submit the details on an attached form. Additionally, missions were “requested to complete the form within 15 days of commencement of the engagement” of any new staff members.

China defended the request, saying it was “international common practice”.

OCMFA Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry
The Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry (OCMFA) in Hong Kong. File photo: Wikicommons.

“It’s understood that China’s consular bodies in foreign countries have also provided their local staff’s information in accordance with the local governments’ requests,” said a statement issued by the commissioner’s office.

100 groups asked to safeguard security

The Hong Kong government on September 19 requested over 100 schools and institutions to ensure that “all key personnel” involved in providing subsidised further education courses safeguard national security.

Hong Kong China flag patriotic national security
Chinese national flags and HKSAR regional flags. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The Labour and Welfare Bureau revised the terms for all courses under the Continuing Education Fund, stating that with immediate effect all relevant groups must safeguard national security.

18 children’s books

A Hong Kong court on September 7 denied bail to a man charged with importing children’s books that were deemed seditious in a high-profile trial last year. He was said to have imported three copies each of The Guardians of Sheep VillageThe Twelve Warriors of Sheep VillageThe Street Cleaners of Sheep VillageVoting Day in Sheep VillageThe Architects of Sheep Village and Sheep Village Daily.

allegedly seditious children's book
A page from 12 Warriors of the Sheep Village depicting the sheep asking whether the 12 sheep caught were eaten by the wolves. Photo: The General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists.

Kurt Leung, a 38-year-old clerk, was said to have intended to bring hatred to the central and Hong Kong governments, promote “feelings of ill-will and enmity” in Hong Kong, and incite violence.

Trial of Jimmy Lai

The Hong Kong government condemned remarks by overseas groups as slander after they called for the release of pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai on his 1,000th day in custody.

Jimmy Lai Apple Daily
Hong Kong pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai. File photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Lai will have been detained for three years when his high-profile national security trial gets underway in December.

The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, a group based in Washington DC, published a letter addressed to US President Joe Biden calling on him to urge the Hong Kong government to “immediately and unconditionally release” Lai.

Trial of 47 democrats

Two defendants in Hong Kong’s landmark national security case involving 47 democrats are set to return to court in October. The court is expected to hear the case against the pair, who changed their pleas to guilty ahead of the trial.

Mike Lam 47 democrats
Mike Lam on April 28, 2022. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP

Former district councillor Ng Kin-wai and businessman Mike Lam, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit subversion, are scheduled to appear in court on October 5. The hearing is expected to take four days.

‘Seditious’ online content

A 46-year-old man was arrested by national security police in Hung Hom on September 18 and charged over suspected “seditious” online content the following day.

Forum LIHKG. Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

The office clerk was suspected of publishing 49 articles on discussion forum LIHKG calling for sanctions and violent action to be taken against officials, local media reported citing sources. National security police searched his home and seized electronic devices.

Arrest and prosecution tally

As of September 15, 279 people had been arrested for suspected acts and activities that endangered national security since the legislation was enacted, the Security Bureau told HKFP. Among them, 162 people and five companies had been charged under the national security law or the sedition law or with other crimes.

Among the 90 persons who have been convicted or are awaiting sentencing, 30 were charged under the national security law.

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Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.