Hong Kong Student Indicted Over Social Media Posts Made in Japan

A Hong Kong student was indicted on Thursday for posting “seditious” comments online while staying in Japan, a case that brought attention to the enforcement of the national security law for comments made overseas. The student, identified as 23-year-old Yuen Ching-ting, was arrested in March upon her arrival from Japan to renew her identity card. Yuen was charged with “seditious intent” under colonial-era legislation. Hong Kong police said that Yuen was arrested because her social media posts contained phrases calling for “Hong Kong independence” and the “downfall of the Communist Party,” Nikkei Asia reported. Yuen’s legal team brought up the legal issues of jurisdiction and extraterritoriality, as the posts in question were made while Yuen was in Japan. The prosecutor said the posts incited “hatred or contempt” towards the government and were accessible in Hong Kong. Yuen was granted bail of HK$10,000 ($1,280) and asked to provide a personal guarantee of the same amount. Her release is contingent upon certain conditions, including deleting the offensive social media posts and reporting to the police regularly. She was also banned from traveling abroad and is expected to appear in court next month. The national security law was imposed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2020, which punishes what the CCP broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in jail. The law was imposed on Hong Kong after the 2019 protests for democracy and political reforms. The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) stated there are over 1,000 estimated political prisoners in Hong Kong following the law implementation. Political Imprisonment Brian Kern, a Hong Kong activist and writer, said the only countries incarcerating political prisoners at rates faster than Hong Kong’s over the past three years are Burma (also known as Myanmar) and Belarus. Protesters chant slogans and gestures during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong, on July 1, 2020. (Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images) “Hardly beacons of the rule of law,” Kern said in his testimony (pdf) to the CECC last month. “Political imprisonment isn’t an entirely new phenomenon in Hong Kong, but mass political imprisonment is.” Kern said the number of political prisoners in Hong Kong had escalated from 26 at the start of the protests in June 2019 to 1,014 in May 2022. The number has increased to about 1,457 today, he added. In a May 11 report, the CECC urged Washington to sanction 29 Hong Kong judges appointed to preside over national security cases, citing their role in the arbitrary imprisonment of over 1,000 political prisoners. The report said the national security law imposed on Hong Kong had created “a parallel legal system that weakens judicial independence and strips criminal defendants of basic due process protections.” The 29 judges are “an integral part” of the parallel legal regime in Hong Kong, having been appointed by the Hong Kong chief executive to preside over national security cases for a one-year term, it stated. “As participants in this system, judges appointed to handle national security cases contribute to these systemic violations,” the report reads.

Hong Kong Student Indicted Over Social Media Posts Made in Japan

A Hong Kong student was indicted on Thursday for posting “seditious” comments online while staying in Japan, a case that brought attention to the enforcement of the national security law for comments made overseas.

The student, identified as 23-year-old Yuen Ching-ting, was arrested in March upon her arrival from Japan to renew her identity card. Yuen was charged with “seditious intent” under colonial-era legislation.

Hong Kong police said that Yuen was arrested because her social media posts contained phrases calling for “Hong Kong independence” and the “downfall of the Communist Party,” Nikkei Asia reported.

Yuen’s legal team brought up the legal issues of jurisdiction and extraterritoriality, as the posts in question were made while Yuen was in Japan. The prosecutor said the posts incited “hatred or contempt” towards the government and were accessible in Hong Kong.

Yuen was granted bail of HK$10,000 ($1,280) and asked to provide a personal guarantee of the same amount. Her release is contingent upon certain conditions, including deleting the offensive social media posts and reporting to the police regularly.

She was also banned from traveling abroad and is expected to appear in court next month.

The national security law was imposed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2020, which punishes what the CCP broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in jail.

The law was imposed on Hong Kong after the 2019 protests for democracy and political reforms. The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) stated there are over 1,000 estimated political prisoners in Hong Kong following the law implementation.

Political Imprisonment

Brian Kern, a Hong Kong activist and writer, said the only countries incarcerating political prisoners at rates faster than Hong Kong’s over the past three years are Burma (also known as Myanmar) and Belarus.

Hong Kong protest July 1, 2020
Protesters chant slogans and gestures during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong, on July 1, 2020. (Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images)

“Hardly beacons of the rule of law,” Kern said in his testimony (pdf) to the CECC last month. “Political imprisonment isn’t an entirely new phenomenon in Hong Kong, but mass political imprisonment is.”

Kern said the number of political prisoners in Hong Kong had escalated from 26 at the start of the protests in June 2019 to 1,014 in May 2022. The number has increased to about 1,457 today, he added.

In a May 11 report, the CECC urged Washington to sanction 29 Hong Kong judges appointed to preside over national security cases, citing their role in the arbitrary imprisonment of over 1,000 political prisoners.

The report said the national security law imposed on Hong Kong had created “a parallel legal system that weakens judicial independence and strips criminal defendants of basic due process protections.”

The 29 judges are “an integral part” of the parallel legal regime in Hong Kong, having been appointed by the Hong Kong chief executive to preside over national security cases for a one-year term, it stated.

“As participants in this system, judges appointed to handle national security cases contribute to these systemic violations,” the report reads.