Business Standard

After jail term, Hong Kong pro-independence activist seeks asylum in UK

An activist who advocated for Hong Kong independence and was jailed under a sweeping national security law fled to Britain to seek political asylum, according to his social media posts Friday

China, Chinese flag

Photo: Bloomberg

AP Hong Kong

Listen to This Article

An activist who advocated for Hong Kong independence and was jailed under a sweeping national security law fled to Britain to seek political asylum, according to his social media posts Friday.
Tony Chung was among the first convicted under the Beijing-imposed law that was introduced after the 2019 pro-democracy protests. He was found guilty of secession and money laundering in 2020 and sentenced to 43 months in prison.
In two Instagram posts Friday, Chung detailed how authorities closely watched him after he was released from prison: He was asked to meet with national security authorities regularly and report to them on where he had been, whom he had met with and his conversations, and authorities offered to pay him for information on others to prove he had reformed himself. They also proposed he go to mainland China.
Chung said he was made to sign a document that barred him from disclosing his conversations with the authorities, so he could not seek help from any lawyers nor tell anyone about his situation.
Under enormous stress and fear, I can only endure silently, he said.
Hong Kong authorities did not immediately reply to The Associated Press' request for comment.
The intimidation faced by Hong Kong dissidents like Chung reflects the drastic erosion of the freedoms promised to the former British colony when it returned to China in 1997. But both the Beijing and Hong Kong governments have hailed the security law for bringing stability to the city.
Earlier in December, prominent pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow, who left Hong Kong for Canada and doesn't plan to return to fulfill her bail conditions, reported similar pressure from authorities. Her passport, confiscated earlier by police, was only returned to her upon meeting certain conditions, including a visit to mainland China with authorities, she said.
In an email reply to the AP, Hong Kong police said Chow failed to show up at a police station Thursday as required and violated her bail terms, pledging they would spare no effort in bringing her to justice."

Chung was convenor of the now-dissolved pro-independence student organization Studentlocalism before being arrested in 2020 near the United States consulate in Hong Kong, where media reports said he was hoping to seek protection.
According to his Instagram posts, Chung was under a supervision order by the city's Correctional Services Department for a year after his release from prison, and was banned from speaking publicly.
In September, he said, national security authorities asked him to take a trip to mainland China, but he told them he was unwilling to do so. The authorities then asked him if he was being reluctant because he was still involved in activities endangering national security.
Chung said he felt sick from time to time from October. Western and Chinese doctors told him that his immune system weakened because he was under huge mental stress. He later persuaded correctional services authorities to let him travel to Okinawa, Japan, for a holiday to manage his emotions. During the trip, he sought help from organizations and people based overseas. He arrived in Britain from Japan on Wednesday to seek asylum.
This also means I can no longer return to my home, Hong Kong, in foreseeable future, he said. Although I had anticipated the arrival of this day in the past, I had a heavy heart when I made up my mind."

In the future, Chung said he would devote himself for his city as a Hong Konger in exile.
I believe only when Hong Kong people don't give up, the seeds of freedom and democracy will sprout again one day, he said.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Don't miss the most important news and views of the day. Get them on our Telegram channel

First Published: Dec 29 2023 | 1:06 PM IST

Explore News