14 found guilty

Fourteen pan-democrats of the HK47 are found guilty of conspiracy to subversion.

Chief Superintendent Steve Li gives his NatSec Police section a pat on the head for a job well done. Does the phrase ‘like shooting fish in a barrel’ come to mind?

“According to the court’s judgement, you could see this is a very serious crime. While [the 14 convicted defendants] had different roles [in the primary election] … they were all entirely lawless and flouting the law.“

Exactly how lawless seems to be debatable. On Twitter, Kevin Yam

Those convicted were essentially accused of promising to filibuster the budget to force a promise on democratisation. 

And Matthew Brooker

They tried to win an election

Their crime was they might have succeeded, despite a gerrymandered system that was designed to prevent that ever happening

It is odd: if planning to reject a budget and thus require the administration to dissolve the legislature and ultimately to stand down is illegal, why does the Basic Law specifically allow for it? (The key prosecution word here is ‘indiscriminately’, though that doesn’t appear in the mini-constitution.)

The government will appeal the two acquittals. Skeptics might see stage-management…

As expected, not all the defendants would be convicted. It seems to be a tactic to show that the court did consider the “evidence” before making its decisions. However, the whole trial was simply a farce. 

International coverage is plentiful, and largely negative. The NYT

The convictions show how the authorities have used the sweeping powers of a national security law imposed by Beijing to quash dissent across broad swathes of society. Most of the defendants had already spent at least the last three years in detention before the 118-day trial ended.

…Their offense: holding a primary election to improve their chances in citywide polls.

“The message from the authorities is clear: Any opposition activism, even the moderate kind, will no longer be tolerated,” said Ho-fung Hung, an expert on Hong Kong politics at Johns Hopkins University.

…In the past, pro-democracy activists had held primaries, without issue, to select candidates to run in the election of the city’s leader, Professor Hung said.

“The fact that they were arrested and convicted and even put behind bars for so long before the verdict manifests a fundamental change in Hong Kong’s political environment: Free election, even the pretension of a free election, is gone,” Professor Hung said.

The FT

Most of the 47 defendants have been detained for more than three years after being denied bail. They span the city’s opposition camp, including politicians and former lawmakers, social workers, civil society leaders and journalists.

The verdict comes as Hong Kong is attempting to revive its reputation as a global financial centre and woo back foreign businesses that fled in the wake of pandemic restrictions and a political crackdown by Beijing and local authorities after pro-democracy protests in 2019.

Thomas Kellogg, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Asian Law, said the court was “poised to put many of the top figures in Hong Kong’s pan-democratic camp behind bars”, predicting sentences that could be “some of the heaviest sentences yet handed down under the national security law”.


Once one of Asia’s most liberal cities, China-ruled Hong Kong is experiencing a years-long crackdown on dissent under China-imposed security laws that have silenced liberal voices, unnerved investors and triggered a wave of emigration.

…[The 14] were found guilty by three judges of conspiracy to commit subversion for holding an unofficial primary election in 2020 that was deemed by Hong Kong authorities as a plot to paralyse the government and “subvert state power”.

…In what U.N. human rights experts  and the U.S. say is a departure from established common law practices, Chow and other democrats were denied a jury trial, and 32 of the 47 have languished for over 1,000 days in detention without bail.


The authorities alleged that [the 47’s] plan, which included a primary among candidates who pledged to block government legislation and force the city’s Beijing-backed chief executive to step down, amounted to an illegal subversion of state power.

Defense attorneys and human-rights advocates said the pro-democracy activists were engaged in standard electoral politics using powers enshrined in Hong Kong law.

…The authorities’ case against the 47 amounted to a swift decapitation of the city’s pro-democracy opposition.

“There’s no doubt that the January 6 arrests—and the subsequent prosecution, which is only now coming to an end—were absolutely transformational,” said Thomas Kellogg, the executive director of the Georgetown Center for Asian Law.

Before then, the possibility remained that the Hong Kong government would use its new legal powers narrowly, targeting just the most extreme activists, such as those who called for Hong Kong’s independence from China.

“Instead, the law would be used as a legal wrecking ball, one that would be swung in the months to come at a growing number of journalists, activists and others,” Kellogg said.

…“You may think there’s actually time to prepare because they would prosecute the most famous and then next most famous and then the next,” said a former colleague of [hospital workers’ union leader Winnie] Yu’s. “In this case they arrested all of the public faces. Just overnight, everyone got caught.”

The Global Times is more understanding

Legal experts believe that the court’s ruling is reasonable, beyond dispute, and demonstrates judicial independence and the justice of the rule of law.

“The case process fully embodies the spirit of the rule of law and the NSL for Hong Kong,” Louis Chen, a member of the Election Committee and general secretary of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, told the Global Times on Thursday.

…The judicial authorities of the HKSAR handled the case according to law, fully preventing, stopping, and punishing actions that endanger national security. This is reasonable, legal, and just, and should not be subject to criticism. The central government firmly supports this, [a] spokesperson said.

On a separate (or not) subject, Domino Theory on Taiwan-based artists and performers finding Hong Kong becoming like the Mainland…

Alice, a young theater actress, has recently given up the opportunity to go on tour in Hong Kong … She had been trying to apply for a short-term work visa in Hong Kong for the past three months. After several email exchanges, she finally received a notice from the Immigration Department. The email listed old social media posts, word for word, and asked her to explain herself and her political stance. “I’m a Taiwanese person who grew up in a free and democratic country. I shouldn’t have been treated like this,” she said.

…she remembered how she shared a post about “Revolution of Our Times,” a documentary covering the 2019 Hong Kong protest, on her Facebook page. She never anticipated receiving a letter from the Hong Kong immigration authorities some years later questioning her about her post.

One last Tweet on a topical issue, from Bill Bishop

Trump conviction tricky for PRC propagandists. On one hand, highlights a rotting and fracturing democracy. On other hand, highlights that a former top leader can be arrested, put on trial, judged by jury of peers and convicted, for relatively small acts of corruption. Not an obvious propaganda win-win

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11 Responses to 14 found guilty

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    “It is ironic that amongst those convicted is Gordon Ng, an Australian citizen accused of being an organiser of the scheme despite the evidence showing that he was a bit player at best, and that his conviction is taking place on the day when the Australian government is CELEBRATING the lifting of trade sanctions by China on certain meat products. TODAY IS NOT A DAY FOR CELEBRATION IN AUSTRALIA’S DEALINGS WITH CHINA. We must step up diplomatic efforts to have Gordon freed.” ~Kevin Yam

    Imagine the outrage from the Oz government had Ng been a bushy blonde, upper middle class, Anglo-Saxon lineage surfer boy?

  2. Reactor #4 says:

    @ Chinese Netizen

    I am trying to imagine a bushy blonde, upper middle class, Anglo-Saxon lineage surfer boy placing himself in the position that the Gordon Ng did. On a variety of grounds, I am afraid I cannot.

  3. Stanley Lieber says:

    They’re killing it off but do not care as long as the HKD is convertible.

  4. Knownot says:

    The posts were said to have made use of an “upcoming sensitive date” to incite hatred against the central and Hong Kong governments, as well as the Judiciary.

    – The Standard, May 29

    – – – – – –

    A Date

    So excited, such a rush,
    It came out in a gush.
    An eager lover
    Without a rubber.
    We knew when she was due.
    There was nothing we could do
    Except wait
    For that upcoming sensitive date.

    I was hard-working ill-paid, in debt.
    The landlady came, a threat:
    She was ready to evict me.
    “Please, why have you picked me?
    You know I always pay
    The following Saturday,
    Only a little late.
    Please, madam, couldn’t you wait
    Till that upcoming sensitive date?”

    My birthday I have always known.
    A day of cards and gifts,
    Laughter, cake, candles blown.
    But when it’s passed, my mind shifts
    To another date, unknown,
    Assigned by fate,
    My deathday.
    And I can only wait
    For that upcoming sensitive date.

  5. Boris Badanov says:

    @Chinese Netizen

    That’s not fair. Whatever the many faults of Australian foreign policy, Australia has protested the arrests and imprisonment of a number of Australian citizens of Chinese ethnicity in China. Australia’s current foreign minister is in fact of Chinese ethnicity.

  6. Reader says:


    Your inability to see beyond the colour of a person’s skin surprises no one.
    Can’t you even try?

    The Australian government’s differentiated response is even less forgivable.

  7. Judge Pao says:

    I yesterday saw 35/5 in London (a few days before the 35th anniversary), a play about a Tiananmen mother. A very good script and powerful performance.

    Equally moving was the post-performance talk by Rowena He, the professor who had her visa denied and was then summarily sacked by CUHK last October.

    I don’t suppose the play will be performed or the post-play talk will be happening any time soon now that – thank goodness – Hong Kong’s society is harmonious.

  8. Chinese Netizen says:

    Rectum #4: You’ve just exposed yourself as the oxygen wasting, parasitic, non contributing individual you are in Hong Kong. Happy to live off the backs of others and just as happy to look the other way when those are having their lives trampled upon. As long as it doesn’t affect the all important YOU. All while suck suds or sipping a mint julep.

    Samuel Bickett was jailed and quickly deported from HK for the offense of trying to stop an injustice perpetrated by dirty cops. What if he were a local Hong Konger?

    @Boris: Yes and she’ll be reminded regularly about her obligations to the motherland and glorious Han people purely because of her winning the ethnic lottery.

  9. wmjp says:

    US firms raised no questions over national security in Hong Kong: Paul Chan

    Because they knew the answers would be a fairytale?

  10. Reactor #4 says:

    @Chinese Netizen

    You tossed out a hypothetical scenario that has no chance of ever being real, but then you were miffed because someone had the temerity to call it out. What sort of free-speech proponent are you? Clearly, not ‘full-fat’.

  11. Chinese Netizen says:

    Hit a little too close to home eh, Rancid?

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