One of the three students who captured global attention in the Tiananmen incident of 1989 by kneeling on the steps of the Great Hall of the People in a plea for CCP leaders to acknowledge student calls for political reforms, has been jailed in China — but not for “inciting subversion of state power” or any such similar crime, but for fraud.
The case of Zhou Yongjun has whipped up widespread controversy in Hong Kong after police in the territory handed him over to their counterparts in mainland China. Zhou had entered the special administrative region on a fake Malaysian passport bearing the (very un-Malaysian) name Wang Xingxiang.
His lawyer Chen Zerui told the AP that:
… the case stems from a complaint by Hong Kong’s Hang Seng bank about a suspicious request for the transfer of funds out of an account registered to Wang Xingxiang – the name in Zhou’s fake passport. The signature on the transfer form did not match that of the original account holder and the name Wang Xingxiang was placed on a money laundering watch list, according to Chen.
He said the amount of the attempted fraud was listed as HK$6 million, but declined to give other details of the case or Zhou’s defense. Zhou denied the fraud charge, saying he was the victim of bad luck and mistaken identity. He says he obtained the fake passport through an immigration agency, a common practice among Chinese exiles who often find themselves stateless after Beijing refuses to renew their passports.
Another of Zhou’s lawyers, Mo Shaoping told The Times:
In our view he should not have been put on trial in China for this so-called fraud since it involved a bank in Hong Kong and the whole case was alleged to have taken place in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho has since described Zhou’s case as “posing the biggest challenge to the one country, two systems principle laid down in the Basic Law.”
This will be the third time that Zhou Yongjun finds himself behind bars since 1989. Last Christmas, another of Zhou’s contemporaries Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment and two years’ deprivation of political rights for inciting subversion of state power.