Update: Hong Kong activist detained near US embassy charged

Tony Chung, Hong Kong pro-democracy student activist

Hong Kong teen activist Tony Chung has been charged under a new national security law, just days after he was detained outside the US consulate, Mr Chung, 19, had reportedly planned to enter the consulate and claim asylum. The activist faces the possibility of life in prison if found guilty of secession, conspiracy to publish seditious content and money laundering.

Mr Chung, the second person to be charged under the law, was denied bail by the court, the controversial law was imposed by China on Hong Kong in June, making it easier to punish protesters and reducing the city’s autonomy, according to the South China Morning Post, Mr Chung was detained on Tuesday morning at a coffee shop opposite the US consulate. UK-based activist group Friends of Hong Kong said he had planned to enter and claim asylum. Instead, footage taken from near the consulate showed him being carried away by plain-clothes police, Mr Chung, who was a former member of pro-independence group Studentlocalism, said activists had not given up fighting. At the right moment, we will come out to protest again,” he said.

“Yes we lose at this moment. But the road to democracy is always long.” He will remain in custody until his next court appearance on 7 January next year, Hong Kong’s national security law was imposed by Beijing in June after months of huge pro-democracy protests last year against an extradition bill. The new law makes secession, subversion of the central government, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces punishable by up to life in prison. In July, several were arrested under the new powers, including a man carrying a “Hong Kong Independence” flag.

The law gives Beijing extensive powers it has never had before to shape life in the territory, critics say it effectively puts an end to the freedoms guaranteed by Beijing for 50 years after British rule ended in Hong Kong in 1997, but China says it will return stability to the city. After the passing of the security law, the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would offer up to three million Hong Kong residents a chance to settle in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship. China has condemned this, saying it would take countermeasures against the UK should it grant residency to Hong Kong residents.

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