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Chinese authorities have arrested five speech therapists in Hong Kong for publishing children’s books that allegedly contained anti-Beijing sentiment.
The five therapists, arrested more than a year ago, are finally tried for sedition for a series of books on a village of sheep and a village of wolves. The books very clearly differentiate the two cities as good and bad, with the wolf society bearing a striking resemblance to mainland China.
The books depict the company of wolves – watched by CCTV cameras – plotting an infiltration of the sheep village after their shepherd leaves.
The characters are clear analogues of mainland China, Hong Kong, and the island’s former British government.
“[The books’] The combined effect was to influence or educate readers not to be Chinese or feel like they belong to the country,” said Laura Ng Shuk-kuen, the lead prosecutor, according to the South China Morning Post.
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“[The books] effectively instilled in readers [sentiments of] separatism, tribalism and betrayal of their country, resulting in the loss of national identity, as well as attacks on Chinese sovereignty, territorial integrity and the long-term stability of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region the SCMP translation of Shuk-kuen’s opening statement continues.
After taking over the village, the wolves announced that a new rule would allow any wolf to eat any sheep they chose. The sheep resisted and were “beaten in the eyes” and “beaten in the legs” but eventually drove the wolves out of their village.
The books also made explicit references to real-life political controversies, including the arrest of would-be Hong Kong escapees.
The defendants, all in their 20s, are members and leaders of the former Hong Kong Speech-Language Pathologists Union – Lorie Lai Man-ling, Samuel Chan Yuen-sum, Marco Fong Tsz-ho, Melody Yeung Yat-yee and Sidney Ng Hau -yi.
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Chinese leader Xi Jinping arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday ahead of the 25th anniversary of Britain’s handover and after a two-year transformation bringing the city more tightly under Communist Party control. It is Xi’s first trip outside mainland China in nearly 2½ years.
Fans waving Chinese and Hong Kong flags chanted, “Welcome, welcome! Warm welcome!” as Xi’s train arrived at the station.
Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, were greeted by city leader Carrie Lam as they got off the train. Xi greeted supporters who greeted him on the platform, then greeted John Lee, the city’s new leader, and Leung Chun-ying, a former city manager, along with other officials.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.