China reveals foreigner jailed for 11 years, mainland students arrested over Hong Kong protests

William Zheng
·4-min read

Beijing has revealed details of four national security cases involving mainland Chinese students, two of whom were arrested after joining anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong.

State television also gave more information about the case of a Chinese-born Belize businessman, reporting that he had been sentenced to 11 years in prison for advising US officials about foreign sanctions on Hong Kong and funding the protests.

Changanjian, the official social media account of China’s top law enforcement agency, the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, on Thursday made public details of the four cases involving students who had studied outside the mainland.

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They included two students who were studying in Hong Kong and were arrested by the national security authority last year for taking part in protests in the city in 2019. The protests began in opposition to an extradition bill but escalated into an anti-government movement.

China on Thursday held its sixth National Security Education Day including activities in Hong Kong, where Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law last year.

The Changanjian post said a 25-year-old mainland student surnamed Chen, who had studied at both the University of Hong Kong and Chinese University of Hong Kong, had posted remarks on social media supporting the anti-extradition movement and attacking the government, including using the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong”.

A second man, surnamed Yang, 26, was accused of being an administrator of an online anti-China group while he was in Hong Kong studying. Changanjian said Yang had posted messages supporting violence during the 2019 turmoil, led a discussion on how to discredit the local police and had tried to spread those messages to the mainland after being trained by “a hostile organisation”.

In a third case, a 22-year-old journalism student surnamed Tian, who was said to have interned at a “well-known Western media” outlet in Beijing, faced a closed-door trial in November, accused of collecting and providing materials to smear China to an unnamed Western country “under the instruction of more than 10 officials”.

The Changanjian post said a fourth case involved a student surnamed Zhang who reportedly turned himself in to authorities in April last year, confessing he had helped a foreign intelligence organisation to take photos at the military port in Shantou.

The post said the four students had all “confessed to their wrongdoing” but it did not give further details.

It came after state broadcaster CCTV aired a report revealing more details in the case of Belizean businessman Lee Henley Hu Xiang, who in April last year became the first foreign national prosecuted for providing funding to the Hong Kong protests. The broadcaster on Wednesday revealed that he had been jailed for 11 years.

CCTV said China’s national security agency had found a “large amount of funds” had flowed from the mainland to Hong Kong through underground channels in June 2019 to support the protests. It said Shanghai-born Lee, 66, was subsequently identified by the agency as one of the main sources.

The report also said Lee had facilitated and funded trips for Hong Kong activists to meet “senior officials from a major Western country” via a middleman surnamed Yang, implying that Lee was behind a September 2019 trip to the United States by a group of activists including Joshua Wong Chi-fung. It also said Lee had met US officials who were exploring sanction options related to Hong Kong and provided advice.

Hong Kong must show resolve in defending ‘bottom line’ of national security: Beijing official

The programme repeated accusations that Lee had met and supported Hong Kong opposition figures – including “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung in 2011 and activist Alex Chow Yong-kang after 2014’s Occupy Central movement – to “express his support”.

Chow, who is now studying at the University of California, Berkeley, posted on Facebook on Thursday that he had only met Lee for “a few minutes” at the exit of Diamond Hill MTR station in Hong Kong in the summer of 2015.

“Based on my vague memory, Mr Lee said that he was very supportive of the democratic movement in Hong Kong and China, and he praised the democratic movement in Hong Kong,” Chow posted. Chow denied he had received any funding from Lee.

Lee testified at the trial of Bo Xilai – the disgraced former Chongqing party chief who was jailed for life for corruption – that Lee and his Shanghai company Meidong had been involved in a sophisticated US$3 million transaction orchestrated by tycoon Xu Ming to buy a villa on the French Riviera for Bo’s wife Gu Kailai in 2000, according to the court verdict.

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