Australian-Chinese dual citizen being prosecuted for ‘subversion’ under Hong Kong’s National Security Law
By Stephen Dziedzic
07 February 2022
The federal government has revealed that an Australian-Chinese dual national is being prosecuted under Hong Kong’s sweeping National Security Law and could face life in jail, in a development that is likely to further inflame tensions between Canberra and Beijing.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) hasn’t named the man, but says he was arrested on January 6 last year. That indicates he is one of the 47 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists and politicians detained that day as part of a broader crackdown on civil society in the city.
The department says the man was arrested for “conspiring to subvert state power”. He was released on bail the next day but was then re-arrested on March 1 when attending court, and charged with “subversion”.
He has spent the last 11 months in jail, and could face a heavy penalty under the National Security Law, which is designed to extinguish political opposition to the Chinese Communist Party in the former British colony.
The laws allow authorities to impose long jail sentences for vaguely worded crimes, including collusion with foreign countries and encouraging “secession”. The penalty for subversion ranges from ten years to life in jail.
The department has also revealed that Australian officials have been repeatedly refused consular access to the man, because Hong Kong authorities no longer recognize dual citizenship.