In July of 2020, Tong Ying-kit was accused of riding a motorbike into a group of police officers in Hong Kong while carrying a flag bearing the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.” The incident took place on the first day after the imposition of the city’s oppressive “national security” law. Witnesses to the event claimed that the veering of the bike was more of an accident than any sort of intentional ramming (he didn’t even strike any of the officers with the bike), but Tong Ying-kit was still the first person to be arrested under the new law. He was charged with inciting secession, terrorism and “dangerous driving.” The protester was tossed in jail for more than a year while awaiting trial and he pleaded not guilty to all charges. That trial finally took place last week and it didn’t last very long. He was found guilty on the two most “serious” charges and now faces the possibility of life in prison at sentencing. (Associated Press)
The first person to be tried under Hong Kong’s sweeping national security law was found guilty of secessionism and terrorism on Tuesday.
The Hong Kong High Court handed down the verdict in the case of Tong Ying-kit, age 24…
The verdict was closely watched for indications as to how similar cases will be dealt with in future. More than 100 people have been arrested under the security legislation.
Tong pleaded not guilty to charges of inciting secession, terrorism and an alternative charge of dangerous driving. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if found guilty.
It would be difficult to overstate how much of a kangaroo court this was. The state dropped the charge of “dangerous driving” and focused on the national security law issues. That would be laughable if this wasn’t such a travesty because aside from possibly riding his bike through a crowd of some police officers (none of whom were injured) the only thing he was “guilty” of was carrying a banner.
You may find yourself wondering how the government could find a jury that would convict someone of such serious charges over a seemingly trivial incident. The answer is that they didn’t. There was no jury. Under the rules of the Chinese Communist Party’s “national security” law, Tong Ying-kit was convicted by a panel of judges handpicked by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam. The removal of a jury is supposedly done in cases where “state secrets need to be protected, foreign forces are involved or if the personal safety of jurors needs to be protected.”
Carrie Lam is the chosen representative of the CCP and answers to Beijing rather than the people of Hong Kong. Obviously she was going to pick judges who are compliant and supportive of Xi Jinping’s wishes. There really wasn’t any need to bother with a “trial” beyond providing some optics for the masses. The result was preordained.
Under the current system, no one can serve as a judge (or hold any other high office) unless the government deems them to be “patriots.” In this case, the term patriot means a person who has proven their unswerving loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party.
The only question now is whether Tong Ying-kit will receive the maximum sentence of life in prison or if the government will show him some “leniency and just keep him behind bars until he’s a very old man. (He is currently 24.) What seems to be clear is that China is looking to send a very loud and forceful message to the people of Hong Kong. Dissent will not be tolerated and anyone who continues protesting or questioning the authoritarian control of China over Hong Kong will be dealt with harshly.
Great Britain has offered nearly unlimited visas to anyone in Hong Kong who wishes to flee. While it’s sad to see the light of democracy go out, more residents of the city should probably consider taking them up on their offer.