Tiananmen Square protests: A businessman and two others convicted of damaging China

BBC News

A Hong Kong businessman and two others have been convicted of interfering in freedom of speech in China, in the second case to reach verdict in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

The charge is a criminal offence for any “hostile” action against the Chinese government.

Cheung Wing-tat and a family member were convicted for storming a meeting organised by rights activists.

The three defendants appealed against their convictions but were not sentenced.

The three men entered an empty room in which they barricaded themselves before removing restraints and storming out.

They had attended a discussion organised by the Hong Kong Free University on 22 June 1989, before the official re-opening of Tiananmen Square following the brutal repression of the pro-democracy demonstrations on 20 June.

At that time, after the talks were called off, Mr Cheung went to his office where he later emailed his father, who was based in China, to complain about what had happened.

Hong Kong activists who opposed the blocking of the seminar had later filed complaints with police accusing the Cheungs of interfering in the seminar.

‘Criticise is fine’

The three men also planned to go to a street rally on 5 June – a day before the anniversary of the protests – where banners with the message “21 July 1989”: “Why don’t you recognise the facts?” were taken down.

But police were quickly on hand and blocked them from entering the rally, allowing them to return home – and to continue plotting a reaction to the square protests.

Later that day, at the late-night briefing – held in a hotel conference room – Mr Cheung mentioned his plans.

“Now let’s take revenge on the Square on 5 June,” the businesswoman’s husband, Hui Leung, was later heard to have told an attendee.

Asked about the comments on the night of the briefing, Mr Cheung said: “If we read the newspaper they don’t show that, so criticise is fine.”

He added: “When they pass their verdict, just talk to them, we will respect their verdict.”

After the briefing Mr Cheung then went to Tiananmen Square to watch the collapse of the Chinese government, smashing a window of the press centre to get a better view.

“We don’t need to accept any retaliation, we cannot pay even one cent for harm against our country,” he told Chinese media at the time.

It is unclear whether Mr Cheung acted on his plans to storm the Tiananmen protest.

However, police said they had attempted to warn him, and there is no evidence in the trial that they had succeeded.

At least 31 people died in the crackdown and thousands more are believed to have been injured and detained.

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