A Hong Kong teen was identified responsible on Friday of insulting China’s nationwide flag and unlawful assembly as Beijing accelerates its crackdown on dissent and the city’s professional-democracy movement.
Pro-Beijing authorities have increasingly specific the most distinguished activists in the finance hub, which includes young leaders this kind of as Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, who were jailed past week.
Tony Chung, a 19-calendar year-aged who led a now-disbanded pro-democracy team, was convicted for throwing the Chinese flag to the ground for the duration of scuffles exterior Hong Kong’s legislature in Might 2019.
“The steps of the defendant had been out of dilemma defiling the countrywide flag in an open up manner. The defendant walked back and jumped to throw the flag which built far more individuals ready to see what he did,” Justice of the peace Peony Wong claimed.
He was arrested by plainclothes law enforcement reverse the US consulate in late Oct and had been remanded in custody considering the fact that.
Speculation has swirled that police moved on Chung simply because he was hoping to talk to for asylum at the US consulate in Hong Kong.
He did not plead responsible to the flag insult or unlawful assembly, which have a maximum of 3 and 5 a long time respectively.
He will be sentenced on December 29.
“Hong Kongers hold in there,” Chung shouted to supporters in court.
Chung is also the to start with community political determine to be prosecuted below the sweeping new nationwide protection law imposed in June by Beijing on Hong Kong to quell anti-federal government protests.
He faces a demand of secession under the new law, which could land him a daily life sentence, as perfectly as independent fees of funds laundering and conspiring to publish seditious material.
Just after Friday’s verdict, the former leader of pro-independence team University student Localism will be jailed when awaiting demo for the far more serious nationwide stability charge.
The alleged flag offence took put for the duration of scuffles involving rival supporters as pro-democracy lawmakers inside of experimented with to avoid the passing of a now-abandoned extradition bill.
In footage shared at his demo, Chung is noticed keeping a Chinese flag seized from a Beijing supporter, which he then throws more than his shoulder.
Prosecutors experienced accused him of an intentional insult, calling his squat, bounce and throw of the flag “performative”.
Chung denied the demand, arguing that he did not realise it was a Chinese flag.
Justice of the peace Wong claimed she did not agree that he did not know the crimson cloth was the Chinese flag as it was evidently observed staying waved by the professional-Beijing camp during the scuffles.
Legal instances for insulting the Chinese flag were rarely noticed in the previous British colony, but as tensions above Beijing’s rule have risen so have such incidents.
In April, an air conditioning apprentice was jailed for 20 times for trampling on the flag and throwing it in the bin at an anti-governing administration protest.
And in July, a male was handed a 5-7 days sentence for burning the flag past calendar year.
Chung and three other members of College student Localism had been to start with arrested in July on suspicion of inciting secession on social media.
His bail disorders from that arrest prevented him from leaving Hong Kong.
Chung’s next courtroom listening to on the nationwide protection charge is on January 7.