One of Hong Kong’s most prominent young pro-democracy activists says he is in London after fleeing the territory following a sweeping and controversial security law imposed by China.
“I boarded my night flight … My destination: London,” Nathan Law wrote on Twitter, a week and a half after declaring that he had left Hong Kong.
He said he had spoken to reporters and lived in a “small apartment”.
Activists say the new Chinese law is eroding the freedoms of Hong Kong.
But Beijing has rejected criticism, saying the law is necessary to stop the kind of pro-democracy protests seen in Hong Kong for much of 2019.
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Mr. Law is a unique student leader who gained prominence during mass protests in 2014.
He was also a local lawmaker who co-founded the Demosisto Party with another well-known activist, Joshua Wong. The party was dissolved when China imposed the new law.
It was unclear from his social media posts on Monday when he arrived in the UK.
What did Nathan Law post on social media?
Writing on social media, Law said he faced “many uncertainties” but made the decision to leave Hong Kong “in the face of political upheaval”.
“We don’t even know if our next protest, the next court hearing, will be followed by imprisonment,” he said, adding that he had put himself in “danger”. “I kept a low profile on my comings and goings in order to mitigate the risks. ”
In a message, which appeared to include an aerial photo of London from the window of a passenger plane, he said he had a message for the Hong Kongers: “We are not broken. On the contrary, we are well equipped to face the next difficult battle. ”
Earlier this month, Law told the BBC that he would continue his advocacy work abroad and that the people of Hong Kong would not give up their fight. “I think the movement is still alive,” he said.
On July 1, the 27-year-old spoke via video link to a Congressional audience in Hong Kong. He told American politicians that he was afraid of returning to the country for fear of being imprisoned by Beijing.
“The mere fact of talking about the fate of the Hong Kongers on such an occasion contradicts the new national security law,” he said at the hearing.
“There is so much to lose in the city that I love: the freedom to tell the truth. “
What is the controversial new law?
Hong Kong’s sovereignty was returned to China by Britain in 1997 and certain rights were supposed to be guaranteed for at least 50 years under the “one country, two systems” agreement.
Last month, China passed a new far-reaching security law for Hong Kong that will ease the crackdown on protesters and reduce the city’s autonomy.
It gives the Chinese state new powers over the city, allowing it to target secession, subversion and terrorism with terms of up to life imprisonment.
The decision to implement the measure has attracted widespread international condemnation.
The elements of the new extended law include:
- Make Chinese central government and Hong Kong regional government “hate speech” illegal
- Allow in camera trials, wiretapping of suspects and the possibility of trying suspects on the continent
- Allow a wide range of acts, including damage to public transport, to be considered terrorism
- Obligation of Internet service providers to transmit data if the police so request
The new Chinese law also stipulates that it will apply to non-permanent residents of Hong Kong and to people “outside” the territory.