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Hong Kong Dissident Involved in Project to Expose CCP Propaganda Detained as He Applies for Asylum in US

An editor for The Great Translation Movement (TGTM) was detained upon applying for refugee status at San Francisco International Airport on March 29.

Tam, hailing from Hong Kong, first joined TGTM as a volunteer.

After arriving at the airport from Hong Kong with a tourist visa, he applied for asylum.

Since applying for refugee status is considered as having immigration intent, he was denied entry with the tourist visa, and he had no other visas, so he was sent to a detention center by U.S. Customs and Border Protection after questioning.

He was sent to the Golden State Annex, an immigration detention center in Los Angeles, where he can only communicate with the outside world by limited phone calls.

Tam is due in court in June and is currently seeking a lawyer and bail guarantor. He worries that he may end up in prison and face torture if sent back to China.

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The Epoch Times has reached out to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for comments but had not received a reply by press time.

TGTM’s logo combines Kanagawa-oki Nami Ura, the logo of the Reddit subgroup ChonglangTV which initiated the movement, with the Ukrainian flag, which represents the cause of the movement.

TGTM emerged in 2022 during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A group of Chinese netizens, most born after 2000, translated Chinese Communist Party (CCP) state media’s content and nationalist comments into English and other languages in their original form.

“In the first week of the Russia-Ukraine war in March 2022, TGTM was already calling on people to donate to Ukraine on a large scale. I was surprised that there were people in mainland China daring to donate to Ukraine, and I was moved by their dedication to freedom,” Tam told The Epoch Times on May 22 in a call from the Golden State Annex.

“The propaganda from China’s state media is hypocritical. In China, they promote Russia as very good, just, and certain to win, but on their overseas channels, they pretend to be neutral. We thought, ‘What the hell?’ and thus started TGTM.”

The movement is decentralized, and the founder keeps their identity and location confidential.Over 40 Volunteers Arrested and Missing“In mid-2022, some active members of TGTM on Telegram were arrested. Our conservative estimate is at least 40,” Tam said. “There has been no news from their ‘Boss’s Twitter account since.”On June 10, 2022, the CCP’s state security department conducted a “closing the net operation” against TGTM, arresting over 40 netizens who participated in the movement online, according to Bitter Winter magazine which covers China human rights issues.

Tam was still in college at the time. He collected screenshots of mainstream domestic comments, translated them, and connected with dissidents to help with translations and publicity.

In its early stages, TGTM translated comments on Chinese networks about “importing and harboring Ukrainian beauties;” news about the China-Europe freight train loaded with 41 carriages of goods departing from Xianning to Moscow; the CCP state media’s claim that the “Sino-British Joint Declaration” was an outdated and invalid document; as well as statements about the United States being the “world’s number one failed country in fighting the pandemic,” the “world’s number one political buck-passing country,” and the “source-tracing terrorism country.”

As soon as TGTM emerged, it drew the attention and fierce criticism of the CCP state media.

The movement has limited manpower, with many volunteers coming and going.

“We need to transform, and we want to do more.”Possible Persecution Upon Returning to Hong KongIn March, Article 23, a new sweeping national security law officially took effect in Hong Kong. As the authorities continue to arrest people for posting anti-government remarks online, Tam decided to flee Hong Kong out of fear of persecution.

“I’ve been doing the Great Translation since 2022, but it seems to have little effect. Hong Kong still arrests people, and China still arrests people for speaking out,” he said.

“A foreign citizen who ran an anti-China [CCP] and anti-Hong Kong government page abroad has already shut it down, but when he returned to Hong Kong, he was arrested and sentenced to five years. We don’t even know how they obtained evidence to locate us, but as soon as you return to the airport, they’ll arrest you.”

In April, Wong Kin-chung, a Hong Kong man with Portuguese nationality was jailed for five years on “incitement to secession,” becoming the first dual national convicted under the newly-passed National Security Law.

Aaron, a Chinese democracy activist known as Sydney Winnie on X platform and joined TGTM in 2023, believes the movement is a good way to let the world see the true face of the CCP.

“He [Tam] has always been very active,” Aaron told The Epoch Times.

So far in fiscal year 2024, 24,376 Chinese nationals have been encountered at the Southwest border, 24,214 of them apprehended illegally crossing the border, according to the factsheet released by the House Committee on Homeland Security on April. 18.

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