Watch the Video: The Trial of the Hong Kong 47—a discussion with Sunny Cheung, Peter Mattis, Anouk Wear, and David Stilwell

About the Event

The trial of the Hong Kong 47 is the largest national security case so far that the city has taken on. In 2021, 47 Hong Kong democrats were arrested and charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion” under Article 22 of the National Security Law. They were accused of planning to use legislative powers to indiscriminately veto bills, force the Chief Executive’s resignation, and bring about a government shutdown. Last week, on May 30, the High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Court of First Instance announced its verdict on the defendants, who were former lawmakers, district councilors, and a former journalist. 14 were convicted and two acquitted, though the city’s Department of Justice intends to appeal the acquittals. The maximum sentence, which is yet to be determined, is life in prison.

The case of the “47” is a politically motivated crackdown by the government of the People’s Republic of China aimed at dismantling political opposition in Hong Kong. It has been met with alarm by many in the international community and has highlighted the erosion of the “one country, two systems” principle and Beijing’s aggressive moves to assert control over the city. The verdict provides a focal point for discussion on the future of the international financial hub in light of its loss of political and economic autonomy.

This expert panel will convene to discuss the verdict itself and its significance for Hong Kong’s future. The discussants will also share their own personal reflections on the recent history of the democracy movement in Hong Kong, as well as observations from those who participated in the 2019 Hong Kong movement and those who served in the U.S. government at the time. The panel will explore the future trajectory of U.S.–Hong Kong relations.

About the Speakers

Sunny Cheung is an Associate Fellow for China Studies and Deputy Editor of China Brief at The Jamestown Foundation. He is also a visiting fellow at the SNR Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Cheung was the spokesperson of the Hong Kong Higher Institutions International Affairs Delegation (HKIAD) in 2019. He has also testified before the United States Congress on the human rights situation in Hong Kong.

Peter Mattis is President of The Jamestown Foundation, a position he began in Fall 2023. He returned to the foundation after having served as editor of China Brief from 2011 to 2013 and as a fellow in the China program from 2013 to 2018. Prior to rejoining Jamestown, Mr. Mattis was Senior Fellow with the U.S. House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party on loan from the Special Competitive Studies Project where he served as Director for Intelligence. From 2019 to 2021, he served as the Senate-appointed staff director of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) where he was a part of the legislative team that passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, Tibetan Policy and Support Act, and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

Anouk Wear 華穆清 is a Research and Policy Advisor at Hong Kong Watch, based in Washington, D.C. Her work focuses on the Hong Kong government’s human rights violations and international legal obligations, its engagement with international organizations, the rule of law, and Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices (HKETOs). She previously worked on Uyghur rights and labor rights issues. Anouk is from both Hong Kong and the United States, and has degrees in social anthropology and public international law. Anouk writes regularly on these topics, including for The Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief, where she has previously interned.

David R. Stilwell was the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from June 20, 2019 to January 20, 2021. Prior to that, he served in the U.S. Air Force for 35 years, beginning as an enlisted Korean linguist in 1980, and retiring in 2015 in the rank of Brigadier General as the Asia advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He served multiple tours of duty in Japan and Korea as a linguist, a fighter pilot, and a commander. He also served as the Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, People’s Republic of China (PRC), from 2011 to 2013 and as the Director of the China Strategic Focus Group at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii from 2017 to 2019. Mr. Stilwell is currently a Fox Fellow for the Future Pacing Threat in the Institute for Future Conflict at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he also teaches basic Chinese language and guest lectures on Political Science, History, Military Strategic Studies, and other classes pertaining to the PRC, Great Power Competition, and Critical Thinking. He is also a board member of The Jamestown Foundation.