Agnes Chow, Ivan Lam and Joshua Wong Photograph:( AFP )
More than 10,000 people have been arrested over the last 18 months and most of Hong Kong's leading activists and opposition figures face prosecution
World leaders on Wednesday criticised the sentencing of Hong Kong activists Agnes Chow, Ivan Lam and Joshua Wong.
Germany's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Adebahr said the sentences, imposed on Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, and Ivan Lam, were a "building block in a series of worrisome developments".
The activists were jailed for a protest outside police headquarters in Hong Kong as authorities stepped up a crackdown on opposition to tighten control by Beijing over the territory.
Meanwhile, Taiwan's President Tsai ing-Wen took to Twitter and said ''she hopes her friends in Hong Kong will not give up''.
I'm saddened by the news that @joshuawongcf, @chowtingagnes & Ivan Lam have been jailed for their activism. These brave young people are symbols of freedom & democracy in #HongKong, values that we will never stop fighting for. pic.twitter.com/DLFf024cJU— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) December 2, 2020
Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) expressed grave concerns over the sentencing.
"The DPP emphasises that what the Chinese Communists and the Hong Kong government have done today is equivalent of declaring that Hong Kong’s freedom is dead," it said in a statement.
In picture: The taming of Hong Kong/AFP graphic
Britain urged the Hong Kong and Beijing authorities to stop their campaigns to stifle opposition, issuing a statement on Wednesday as three Hong Kong activists including Joshua Wong began their prison sentences.
"Prosecution decisions must be fair and impartial, and the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong must be upheld," said Britain's foreign minister Dominic Raab.
China has moved to crush Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement after huge and violent protests rocked the finance hub last year, hammering the flickering freedoms and autonomy it promised the finance hub could keep after British colonial rule ended in 1997.
Earlier this summer, Beijing imposed a broad security law that ramps up its direct control over the city and outlaws certain political views.
More than 10,000 people have been arrested over the last 18 months and most of Hong Kong's leading activists and opposition figures face prosecution.
In recent months, the Hong Kong government has expelled opposition lawmakers from the legislature, disqualified pro-democracy candidates from running in a now-postponed election and arrested more than 30 people under the security legislation.
The expulsion of opposition lawmakers prompted democrats to resign en masse, leaving the legislature devoid of any opposition democrats for the first time since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule.
Hundreds of Hong Kong activists have fled through legal or illegal channels to the democratic island of Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province that should be brought back under its sovereignty, by force if necessary.