Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong believes he will be a “prime target” of Beijing’s move to impose national security legislation on the Chinese-ruled city that critics say will crush its much-coveted freedoms.
The law aims to tackle separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, although it is unclear what activities would constitute such crimes and what the punishment would be.
Wong has rallied support for the pro-democracy movement overseas, meeting politicians from the United States, Europe and elsewhere, drawing the wrath of Beijing, which says he is a “black hand” of foreign forces.
“I will probably be the prime target of the new law. But what makes me fear is not my potential imprisonment, but the gloomy fact that the new law will be a threat over the city’s future and not just my personal life,” Wong told Reuters.
“Journalists, human rights groups, NGOs, and expats may fall prey to the new law since all dissenting voices can be charged with inciting subversion, like the situation in China.”
The draft law has alarmed foreign governments and Hong Kong democracy activists, who are concerned that Beijing is eroding the high degree of autonomy granted to the former British colony when it was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
China says the national security law will target only a small group of troublemakers and people who abide by the legislation have no reason to worry.
The top decision-making body of China’s parliament has scheduled a meeting for June 28-30 and the law, which will pave the way for the biggest change to the city’s way of life since its handover in 1997, is expected to be enacted then.
One of the most globally recognised faces in Hong Kong’s democracy movement, Wong, 23, began his activism during secondary school when he led a hunger strike against a national education system and later became one of the protest leaders for the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement.
“I call on the world to stand with Hong Kong and urge China to pull back this evil law,” Wong said.