Hundreds rallied outside a Hong Kong court on Monday after 47 pro-democracy activists were charged under a national security crackdown — arrests that prompted condemnation from Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the European Union.
The 47 were among more than 50 arrested in January and are facing charges of “conspiracy to commit subversion” under a draconian national security law imposed by the Chinese Communist government designed to stifle dissent.
They were accused of organizing an unofficial primary poll last July to pick candidates for 2020 legislative elections, which were postponed because of the coronavirus.
Hong Kong authorities said the intent of the poll was to “overthrow” the government.
Blinken called for the release of the 47 Hong Kong protesters.
“We condemn the detention of and charges filed against pan-democratic candidates in Hong Kong’s elections and call for their immediate release. Political participation and freedom of expression should not be crimes. The U.S. stands with the people of Hong Kong,” he said in a Twitter post on Sunday.
The EU said the arrests make “clear that legitimate political pluralism will no longer be tolerated in Hong Kong,” spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said in a statement.
“The EU urges Hong Kong and Beijing authorities to abide by their commitments to fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, as enshrined in the Basic Law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The EU calls for the immediate release of those arrested,” it added.
The outrage against China’s handling of Hong Kong comes as a new Gallup poll released Monday shows Americans’ views on China have fallen to historic lows.
Americans’ favorability ratings for China hit a record low 20 percent – a 13 percentage point drop from 33 percent a year ago.
The 20 percent was the lowest since the 33 percent favorability rating recorded in 1997 and the 34 percent from 1989 following the Chinese government’s crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square.
With Post wires