A political activist who has been actively lobbying the US government to support the city’s pro-democracy cause says she has left Hong Kong due to safety concerns.
Frances Hui wrote in an emotional Facebook post Thursday that “several sources” had warned her to leave the city since the passing of the national security law, under which authorities have doubled down on efforts to arrest and charge activists like her.
After careful consideration, Hui said she “had no choice but to leave Hong Kong.”
The 21-year-old spent the last four years in the US, where she pursued a degree in journalism at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.
While studying, she co-founded “We the Hongkongers,” a campaign that called on the US government to include “Hongkonger” alongside Chinese, Filipino, Indian and other ethnicities in a demographic survey used to collect race data in the country.
The recent graduate became the subject of media attention last year after publishing an opinion piece in her school newspaper titled “I am from Hong Kong, not China.” In her column, she recalled being upset when a presentation during orientation listed her hometown as “Hong Kong, China.”
Her university, she added, lacked an understanding of the identity issues faced by Hong Kong and Taiwanese students, and should provide an “inclusive platform” for more discussion. She noted that 60% of her university’s international undergraduate students are from mainland China.
In an interview with Coconuts, Hui said she is certain that authorities are keeping an eye on her.
“I know for sure that I am one of those on the watchlist,” Hui said, referring to Beijing’s targeting of activists involved in lobbying foreign politicians.
Hui, who is not a US citizen, had earlier hoped to return to Hong Kong after graduating. She also told Coconuts she would be distancing herself from her family.
The national security law has prompted an exodus of activists and former opposition lawmakers from the city, with many fearful of being politically persecuted for their support of the pro-democracy movement.
Earlier this month, ex-legislator Ted Hui fled to the UK, quit the Democratic Party and confirmed he is going into exile. He was facing nine protest-related charges in Hong Kong. Last Friday, Baggio Leung—one of the lawmakers ousted from the Legislative Council in the 2016 oath-taking scandal—announced that he is seeking asylum in the US.