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Wong ‘Deeply Concerned’ About Hong Kong’s Conviction of Australian Citizen

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has expressed serious concerns over the Hong Kong authorities’ decision to convict an Australian citizen on national security charges.

In the city’s biggest trial against democratic opposition, the Hong Kong court on May 30, handed down guilty verdicts for 14 pro-democracy activists, including Australian-Hong Kong dual citizen Gordon Ng.

The activists were charged with conspiracy to commit subversion under the Beijing-imposed draconian national security law, which was passed in 2020 as a means to suppress public and political dissent in the former British colony.

In a mass arrest, Mr. Ng, whose Chinese name is Ng Ching-hang, has been detained since 2021 for being a part of the NSL47, a group of 47 leading democracy activists and politicians participating in the 2020 Legislative Council primaries.

They were tried without jury by the Hong Kong authority’s handpicked judges.

Mr. Ng was accused of subversion for initiating a voting campaign, calling for the holding of election forums, and helping to design and arrange the polls. He could potentially face life imprisonment.

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“We are deeply concerned by the verdicts handed down today for some members of the NSL47, including a guilty verdict for Australian citizen Mr Gordon Ng,” she said.

“We also continue to request consular access to Mr. Ng from Hong Kong authorities. Noting Mr. Ng has avenues of appeal available to him, I will not comment further on his case.”

The Australian government has repeatedly been denied access to Mr. Ng after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claimed it did not recognise dual nationality.Concerns Over National Security LawMs. Wong added that the Australian government has expressed strong objections to the Hong Kong authorities “on the continuing broad application of national security legislation to arrest and pressure pro-democracy figures, opposition groups, media, trade unions and civil society.”

“We know that the application of these laws also has implications for individuals outside of Hong Kong, including in Australia,” she said.

“The systemic erosion of Hong Kong’s rights, freedoms, autonomy and democratic processes has been consistently raised with China and Hong Kong.”

“During China’s Universal Periodic Review in January, we recommended China to cease suppression of freedoms of expression, assembly, media and civil society, consistent with Human Rights Committee and Special Procedure recommendations, including the repeal of the National Security Law in Hong Kong.”

The minister’s shadow counterpart, Simon Birmingham, said the “decimation of freedoms and rights” in Hong Kong was a “tragedy” and should not be forgotten.

“The Chinese government’s actions warrant constant and consistent pressure from Australia and nations which also valued the freedoms and rights that Beijing promised to uphold in Hong Kong but has instead destroyed,” he said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

“We continue to call for reinstatement of those rights previously guaranteed by the Basic Law and Sino-British Joint Declaration,” he said.

“Two Australian residents from Hong Kong still have a bounty over their heads from Hong Kong authorities seeking their return to face trial for their support of pro-democracy activities. This action must be dropped for the two Australians as well as others outside of Hong Kong.”

In 2020, in response to the passage of Hong Kong’s national security law, Australia suspended its extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties with the city’s authorities.

Australia also announced a series of extended and new visa arrangements for eligible Hongkongers living in the country, and has reportedly granted a visa to former Hong Kong legislator Ted Hui who resides in the country in exile.

While Australia has introduced a Magnitsky-style sanctions regime on human rights abusers, it has yet to impose it on those responsible for the Hong Kong situation.

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