The trial of Cardinal Zen and others begins (background here). The only charges are a minor and rarely enforced technicality: failing to register the 612 Humanitarian Defence Fund as a ‘society’, which carries a HK$10,000 fine. The retired Catholic cleric, Margaret Ng, Cyd Ho, Denise Ho, Hui Po-keung, and Sze Ching-wee were arrested in May on suspicion of ‘collusion with foreign forces’ – a serious NatSec Law offense.
Are the authorities going to chicken out of pursuing the six through NatSec courts with hand-picked judges, no juries, and probable multi-year prison sentences? It would be out of character for the vindictive NatSec system to go easy on high-profile local critics of Beijing, and even now the prosecution is emphasizing the group’s (surely irrelevant) political stance and international ties. But imprisoning a highly respected 90-year-old former bishop, an equally venerable lawyer and a popular singer would attract some pretty damning international coverage (even if the Vatican studiously looks the other way).
Not that Hong Kong’s reputation is usually uppermost in the minds of the people who make these decisions. The NatSec investigation appears to be ongoing.
Not totally unrelated – an HKFP op-ed on Beijing’s awkward support for Putin…
China’s current friendship with Russia is contributing to a trend: officials and business leaders around the world are increasingly questioning the judgment and effectiveness of China’s ruling elite. From Ukraine to Taiwan to Covid-19, it seems to be out of step with global opinion, and indeed out of step with reality.