The China-backed Hong Kong government sentenced several prominent pro-democracy activists to prison on Friday.
A Hong Kong court sentenced Jimmy Lai, a media mogul who is critical of the Chinese Communist Party, to 14 months in prison for protesting against China's crackdown on the city. The court also sentenced four former Hong Kong lawmakers for their role in pro-democracy protests.
The sentencing comes a day after Hong Kong's "National Security Education Day," a mandated holiday to commemorate China's enforcement of its national security law on the city. Protesters demonstrated against the law throughout the summer of 2020 for effectively ending the political and legal separation between Hong Kong and China. The protests started in 2019 after China undermined Hong Kong's relative autonomy by forcing the city to comply with mainland China's extradition requests.
Hong Kong police commissioner Chris Tang said U.S. agents were involved in fomenting unrest in a speech on Thursday. "The police force and I will spend energy throughout our lives to find out who you are, and look for evidence to convict you in court," he said.
Since last year, China has tightened its grip on Hong Kong's government. In March, China approved new laws that require Hong Kong politicians to request permission to run for office from Chinese Communist Party officials, effectively banning pro-democracy candidates from holding office. Earlier this week, suspected Chinese agents also attacked a dissident anti-Communist Hong Kong newspaper in an attempt to destroy the paper's printing equipment.