‘Liberate’ and ‘revolution’ well defined, court hears

A historian testifying at the trial of national security suspect Tong Ying-kit told the High Court on Monday that the protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times” refers to changing the government and changing the era.

As well as terrorism and dangerous driving for allegedly driving a motorbike into police officers, Tong, 24, is accused of secession. He was allegedly flying a flag bearing the Liberate slogan as he drove his bike in Wan Chai.

On day six of his trial, prosecutors played a video of a 2016 speech by a former localist leader, Edward Leung, during his election campaign for a New Territories East Legco by-election.

Leung cites a conversation with another localist, Ray Wong, and finishes his speech by chanting the slogan in question, which he is credited with creating.

Prosecutors said the video backs up comments from their expert witness – history professor Lau Chi-pang from Lingnan University.

Lau noted that in the speech Leung agreed with Wong’s political ideals of resisting the authorities with violence and bravery, overthrowing the “Hong Kong Communist regime”, bringing change to all Hong Kong people, and establishing a country for Hongkongers.

Prosecutors then played a series of videos of protests in 2019 and 2020, where the slogan was occasionally chanted. In one video, protesters were seen vandalising a national emblem at Beijing’s liaison office in Western, and chanting the slogan.

Lau said by carrying out such acts, the protesters had challenged the authority of the People’s Republic of China to govern Hong Kong.

He also noted that the slogan was sometimes chanted along with others such as “Hong Kong independence” and “expel the Communist Party,” showing they are directly related.

The professor said the words “liberate” and “revolution” have been used throughout Chinese history in a mainly political context, with their meanings clearly defined in dictionaries.

During cross examination, Lau was asked whether Leung had the same understanding of the words as he did.

In response, the professor said he, Leung and many Chinese people have the same understanding of the words’ meaning, adding that you don’t have to be a historian to comprehend this.