HONG KONG – A mainland Chinese student was jailed in Hong Kong on Tuesday over a plan to unfurl a massive banner commemorating Beijing’s bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Zeng Yuxuan, 23, was accused of planning the display on a footbridge in a major commercial district of Hong Kong on the anniversary of the crackdown this year.
She pleaded guilty to one count of “attempt to carry out acts with seditious intent” and was sentenced to a total of six months in jail by magistrate Peter Law, who has been handpicked by the government to handle national security cases.
The 9m-tall banner displayed the “Pillar of Shame” – a sculpture commemorating the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in the Chinese capital.
Discussion of the event is highly sensitive to China’s communist leadership, and commemoration of the hundreds killed – by some estimates, more than 1,000 – has long been forbidden on the mainland, and is increasingly so in Hong Kong.
Zeng, a student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was arrested by the police in the Asian financial hub in early June, before she could carry out her planned protest.
Mr Law said Zeng was part of “a global action” and worked with “overseas persons with international influence”.
He found Zeng’s plan “comprehensive and detailed”, including renting a hotel room in order to appear as if she was a mainland tourist, notifying news outlets and preparing responses in case she was caught.
Local newspaper Sing Tao Daily reported in August that the Hong Kong police planned to arrest Danish artist Jens Galschiot, who made the original sculpture, and extradite him to mainland China’s justice system if he tried to enter the city.
The sculpture was dismantled and removed from the University of Hong Kong in December 2021 as the city’s authorities clamped down on Tiananmen commemorations.
Hong Kong used to hold large annual candlelight vigils to mourn the crackdown.
Those commemorations were no longer allowed to go forward after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law in mid-2020 to quell dissent.
So far 279 people, including the vigil organisers, have been arrested and 30 have been convicted under the law. AFP
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