Northern Ireland news

Hong Kong pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong who called on Stormont leaders to clarify stance on China's security laws gets longer jail term

Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Eddie Chu and Joshua Wong, and inset, Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill with Belfast's Chinese Consul General, Madame Zhang Meifang

A PROMINENT pro-democracy activist has been sentenced to more jail time for participating in an unauthorised vigil to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, as Hong Kong authorities exert more control over dissent in the city.

Last year Joshua Wong urged Stormont leaders to "clarify their stance and stand up for the liberal values that the world cherishes" amid claims the first and deputy first ministers endorsed China's draconian new security laws.

The call came after Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill allegedly said they "understand and respect" Hong Kong's new legislation imposed by China.

The apparent endorsement came during a video call with consul general Madame Zhang Meifang, according to a translated report by the Chinese Consulate.

However when The Irish News reported the details of the meeting the initial report on the consulate's website was later changed to remove the controversial statement.

The Executive Officer later said consulate's report did not reflect the ministers' stances nor their comments during the meeting.

For years, Hong Kong was the only place in China where people were allowed to mark the anniversary of Beijing's crushing of the Chinese democracy movement.

Mr Wong was also among the 47 activists charged under the city's sweeping national security law for taking part in unofficial primary elections held last year by the pro-democracy camp to determine candidates to field in the legislative elections, which were later postponed.

Despite the commemoration being banned for the first time last year, thousands of protesters defied authorities and proceeded to Victoria Park in June to light candles and sing songs.

Police at the vigil warned the protesters they may be breaking the law but made no arrests on the day.

Mr Wong, who rose to prominence as a student activist and was the face of the 2014 pro-democracy protests, is already in jail after being convicted of illegal assembly in other protests and was sentenced to an additional 10 months.

He and three district councillors had pleaded guilty to knowingly taking part in an unauthorised assembly, and could have faced a maximum of five years in prison.

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