Beijing says mainland students arrested over ‘anti-China threats’ like Hong Kong protests


China’s state media on Thursday published details of three mainland students who were arrested months ago for threatening national security and, for two of them, over their alleged support of Hong Kong’s 2019 pro-democracy protests.

The reports came from the Communist Party’s media mouthpieces, the Global Times and the Legal Daily. They also coincided with the first time Hong Kong marked “National Security Education Day,” which China launched in 2016.

One of the three was a journalism student surnamed Tian, who studied at a university in the northern province of Hebei and worked as an intern at the Beijing office of a Western news outlet.

Tian was arrested in June 2019 for “seriously harming China’s political security.” Authorities said he set up an anti-China website in 2018 to spread disinformation and followed instructions by foreign groups to smear his own country. During a visit to a Western country in 2019, Tian “engaged with more than 20 hostile foreign groups and more than a dozen officials.” He received a closed-door trial last November, the state media reported.

Another student, surnamed Yang, allegedly joined anti-China groups in 2018 after traveling to Hong Kong to pursue a master’s degree the year before. He took part in illegal protests and distributed anti-China propaganda using Wi-Fi hot spots and the Airdrop feature on mobile phones.

Yang showed support for the 2019 Hong Kong protests on Twitter and shared related content with mainland Chinese audiences, authorities said. He was arrested in June 2020 and admitted to his crimes, the state media reported.

The third student, Chan, was also arrested last year for his involvement in the demonstrations. He had studied in Hong Kong since 2014, and “developed anti-China political views and published many posts on social media attacking the central government and supporting the protests,” according to the reports.

Chan also used the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong,” which authorities deemed illegal. After being taken into custody, Chan wrote a 100,000-word letter expressing regret and promising to turn over a new leaf.

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