A national security law trial of 47 opposition figures began on Monday in Hong Kong, drawing worldwide attention. Experts on Hong Kong affairs stressed that the court must reveal to the public that the ultimate intention of these suspects was to take power in Hong Kong by using loopholes in the city's electoral system and then to seek independence by colluding with external forces.
The case is an opportunity to show the public why it is necessary to reform the electoral system in Hong Kong and what is the bottom line of the national security law for Hong Kong, experts noted.
Sixteen out of the 47 Hong Kong opposition figures accused of subversion over an unofficial primary election told a court on the first day of their trial that they will contest their charges, with one arguing that prosecutors had filed unclear allegations, the South China Morning Post reported Monday.
The 16, including activists, politicians and former lawmakers involved in the city's largest prosecution under the national security law for Hong Kong, began their estimated 90-day trial at West Kowloon Court on Monday. Two others who earlier indicated they would contest their charges pleaded guilty on the same morning, according to the South China Morning Post.
According to media reports, local police ramped up security measures at the court building, with dozens of officers both in uniform and plain clothes stationed on the fourth floor, and a roadblock set up on Tonkin Street, a major access point near the complex.
It is also the first case of conspiring to subvert state power under the national security law for Hong Kong. Ringleaders in the case would face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment according to the law, media reports said.
The 47 suspects in the case, 39 men and eight women aged between 23 and 64, were charged with "conspiracy to commit subversion" in February 2021 over their organization and participation in the 35+ plan in the election for the Legislative Council (LegCo).
The key of this case is that the court has to reveal to the public that the ultimate intention of these suspects was to split the country and seek independence via taking advantage of the city's constitutional loopholes, and expose their lies in so-called seeking democracy, Li Xiaobing, an expert on Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan affairs at Nankai University, told the Global Times on Monday.
The 47 suspects' aim was to paralyze the Hong Kong regional government by trying to win a majority with strategic voting at the LegCo with the so-called 35+ plan and taking power over the Hong Kong region.
But the biggest problem was that they seemingly conducted this legally under the city's previous legal and election system, Li explained.
That is why Hong Kong has to reform its electoral system and the central government has to clarify the bottom line of the national security law for Hong Kong to prevent similar crimes in the future, according to Li.