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Chinese authorities have arrested five speech therapists in Hong Kong for publishing children’s books that reportedly contained anti-Beijing sentiment.
The five therapists arrested over a year ago are finally on trial for sedition over a series of books about a sheep village and a village of wolves. The books very clearly separate the two cities into good and bad, with the company of wolves bearing a striking resemblance to mainland China.
The books show the company of wolves – monitored by CCTV cameras – planning 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 nor to have a sense of belonging 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 the readers [sentiments of] separatism, tribalism and betrayal of their country, resulting in the loss of national identity and damage to Chinese sovereignty, territorial integrity and the long-term stability of Hong Kong SAR,” the SCMP translation of Shuk-kuen’s opening statement continued.
After taking over the village, the wolves announced that a new rule would allow any wolf to eat any sheep. The sheep fought back and were “slapped in the eyes” and “slapped in the legs,” but eventually the wolves drove them out of their village.
The books also contained explicit references to real-life political controversies, including the arrests of would-be Hong Kong refugees.
The defendants, all in their 20s, are members and officials of the former Hong Kong speech therapists 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 the British handover and after a two-year restructuring that brought the city closer to Communist Party control. It is Xi’s first trip outside of mainland China in almost two and a half years.
Supporters, waving Chinese and Hong Kong flags, chanted, “Welcome, welcome! Welcome!” as Xi’s train pulled into the station.
Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, were greeted by city guide Carrie Lam as they stepped off the train. Waving to supporters who greeted him on the platform, Xi later greeted John Lee, the city’s new leader, and Leung Chun-ying, a former city executive chairman, along with other officials.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.