Hong Kong files first charges under new law, man booked for terrorism

Hong Kong, July 3

A man carrying a “Liberate Hong Kong” sign as he drove a motorcycle into cops at a protest against the territory’s Chinese rulers became the first person charged with inciting separatism and terrorism under a new national security law on Friday.

Beijing imposed the legislation on the former British colony earlier this week despite protests from Hong Kongers and Western nations, setting China’s freest city and a major financial hub on a more authoritarian track.

UN’s human rights office voices concern over detentions

Geneva: UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville has voiced concern that “vague and overly broad” provisions in Hong Kong’s new national security law may lead to activists being prosecuted in violation of fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression. Hundreds were arrested at a protest on Wednesday, a day after the new law went into effect, and at least 10 have been charged, he told a Geneva news briefing. Reuters

Critics say the law, which punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, is aimed at crushing dissent and a long-running campaign for greater democracy. Police say 23-year-old Tong Ying-kit rammed and injured some officers at an illegal protest on Wednesday. A video showed a biker knocking over several officers before the driver falls over and is arrested.

Tong, who was hospitalised after the incident, was charged less than 24 hours after the city government said the slogan he was carrying – “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” – connotes separatism or subversion under the new law.

Hardliner to head security office

Beijing: China has appointed Zheng Yanxiong (56) as director of its new national security office in Hong Kong, Xinhua reported. He came to prominence during his tenure as party chief of Shanwei when authorities clamped down on protesters in 2011 in Wukan village. Zheng most recently served as the secretary general of the Communist Party committee of Guangdong province. Reuters

The new legislation gives the security office greater enforcement action and powers to take suspects onto the mainland, as well as granting privileges for agents, including that Hong Kong authorities cannot inspect their vehicles.

China’s parliament adopted the security law after sometimes violent protests last year triggered by fears Beijing was stifling freedoms, guaranteed by a “one country, two systems” formula agreed when Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997. At another court, dozens gathered in solidarity with a man charged for stabbing a policeman. They held up blank pieces of paper to show fears for free speech. — Reuters

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