20-year-old democracy activist sentenced to two years in jail for ‘subverting state power’

A 20-year-old democracy activist was sentenced to a two-year jail term on Wednesday for “subverting state power” in a case seen as another blow to Hong Kong’s fledgling independence movement.

Joshua Wong was convicted in July over an unsanctioned protest in 2016, where he handed over to police a banner that said “Hong Kong is not China”, and was initially sentenced to community service.

However, he appealed the sentence, calling it unjust, and the case has drawn attention in Beijing.

“In January 2020, you can be released if you repent and don’t offend the society,” judge Amy Tsang told Wong in court.

Wong, who can appeal, bowed to the bench before being handcuffed and led away to prison.

“Sorrow is for a sad person, there is no reason to carry on with hope,” Wong said during his court statement before sentencing.

“There is a world outside of Hong Kong. They cannot give us happiness. They can only take away happiness from us.”

Hong Kong has been governed under a “one country, two systems” formula since its return to China from British rule in 1997 that allows it a high degree of autonomy and freedom, including a separate legal system.

China is also allowed to interpret Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, but the approach has drawn criticism.

Although Wong is a minor, the case illustrates concerns among critics of mainland China that Beijing is tightening its grip on Hong Kong.

He was one of at least three youth activists arrested last year in connection with a protest in 2016 calling for China to abide by the international rule of law, and a month later, police arrested Cai Yan, a 20-year-old student studying in the mainland and vocal advocate of secession.

Cai was released in May after serving three months of a one-year sentence on the charge of subversion of state power.

Wong is among hundreds of activists released on a one-year curfew in August after two years in jail for a second-hand t-shirt protest in 2014.

Read the full story at the South China Morning Post.

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