A Hong Kong medic, on Friday, became the first person to be charged under a sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed on the territory.
The case was heard at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
According to local broadcaster RTHK, the defendant, 23-year-old Tong Ying-kit, has been charged by the Police with inciting others with a view to committing secession or undermining national unification and terrorist activities.
Videos posted online showed Ying-kit riding a motorcycle trailing a flag that reads “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our Times’’ when he was intercepted by a police squad.
According to the Police, Ying-kit and three officers were left injured in the encounter.
Under the new national security law, offenders could be sentenced to life in prison or extradited to stand trial in Mainland China for secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
However, critics noted that the law would be weaponised by Beijing to quash dissent in the financial hub, which had been roiled by protests for the past year.
On Thursday, Hong Kong’s Government said the popular protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times”, was a breach of the new legislation as it indicates support for separating Hong Kong from Mainland China.
The territory’s leadership said the slogan referred to altering the legal status of the Hong Kong special administrative region, or subverting the state power.
Meanwhile, the slogan has been a mainstay at anti-government protests over the last year.
Black flags, T-shirts and stickers displaying the words in white in English and Cantonese had proliferated, as a sign of advocating Hong Kong’s independence.
On Wednesday, more than 300 people were arrested in protests sparked by the law passed.
However, 10 people that were arrested were under the new law.
Earlier, the Chinese state media announced that two hard-line Beijing officials were named by the Central Government to advise and supervise a newly formed committee on developments of national security policy headed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
A number of pro-democracy and pro-independence groups in Hong Kong swiftly disbanded Wednesday after the law came into effect.
Prominent activist, Nathan Law, of now-disbanded pro-democracy group Demosisto, announced that he had left his native Hong Kong in a bid to avoid persecution under the law.
Law said that he had chosen to continue his activism abroad over being kept silent or face persecution at home.
“No Hong Konger is under the illusion that Beijing has any intention to respect our basic rights and honour its promises to us.
“Mass arrests have already begun on the first day of the National Security Law’s implementation,’’ Law said.
He said his safety may have already been in jeopardy after criticising the law in a U.S. congressional hearing he attended by livestream on Wednesday.
He has consistently lobbied the international community to take action against Beijing’s increasing authority in Hong Kong, a former British colony that was promised autonomy from the Mainland until 2047.
“As the plane took off the runway, I gazed down at the skyline I love so much one last time.
“Should I have the fortune to ever return, I hope to still remain as I am, the same young man with these same beliefs.
“Glory to Hong Kong,’’ Law said.