China sentences Belize citizen Henley Lee to 11 years in prison for aiding pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong

Henley Lee Huxiang, a Belize citizen, sentenced to 11 years in prison for pro-democracy activity in Hong Kong, was forced to make a televised “confession” of his crime. (credit: CCTV-13 screenshots)

Henley Lee Huxiang, a Belize citizen, is the first individual to be prosecuted since the People’s Republic of China amended its criminal code to outlaw support for activities that would endanger national security. Henley Lee was sentenced to eleven years in prison and made to “confess” on Chinese television. The United Kingdom and Australia have suspended the television station that broadcast forced confessions.

Lee, 66, was arrested November 26, 2019, after massive pro-democracy street protests in Hong Kong. Recently, Chinese authorities have cracked down on democracy activists arresting dozens of people for organizing peaceful protests.

Lee was charged with endangering national security in April 2020 and then disappeared from sight until his forced appearance on state-run CCTV-13 television channel. Lee appeared on a show called Focus Report that has also featured “confessions” from four Taiwanese activists arrested in Hong Kong.

In the video, Lee was wearing a vest indicating he was under national security custody and was filmed wearing handcuffs. Lee was accused of funneling money to imprisoned Hong Kong activists Alex Chow, Nathan Law, Joshua Wong, and Sunny Cheung. Chow and Law have denied knowing Lee and said they never took money from him.

Lee, who was born in Shanghai, is accused of being a traitor to China. Until his arrest in 2019 Lee was vice-president of a United States consulting company in China called Eastern America.

Safeguard Defenders, a human rights watchdog group which monitors televised “confessions” on Chinese state media, issued a statement on Lee’s case.

“This is a dangerous precedent that cannot be understated and reflects the brand new provisions in China’s Criminal Law, echoing the extraterritorial aspects of the Hong Kong National Security Law.”

Although Lee is a Belize citizen, it is not clear he ever lived in Belize and may have purchased his citizenship, as a number of Chinese have done in the past. According to the state-run Global Times Lee acquired his Belize citizenship with the assistance of his family in Hong Kong.

Following his 2019 arrest Lee was portrayed in the Chinese newspaper articles as corrupt and involved in the sex trade. Lee was purportedly linked to fallen politician Bo Xilai although none of the allegations have been proven.

After Lee’s arrest, the state-owned newspaper Guangzhou Daily reported:“Investigations by the national security agency [MSS] confirmed that the suspect provided a large amount of funds to hostile elements in the US, colluded with foreign anti-China forces to intervene in Hong Kong affairs, and funded the implementation of criminal activities that endangered our national security.”

Even though Lee’s connection to Belize is tenuous, his prison sentence for supporting democracy in Hong Kong will have a chilling effect on the PRC’s efforts to woo Belize away from recognizing the Republic of China in-exile’s sovereignty over Taiwan. A year ago, Parliament member Kareem Musa made a trip to China. The United Democratic Party made a big deal out of Musa’s junket, condemning the trip. A UDP news release said Musa was “diplomatically irresponsible” and lied about the nature of his visit which he said was personal and at the invitation of the Belize Chinese Association. The president of the Association accompanied Musa and acted as translator but denied extending an invitation. The Association has been silent about Lee’s arrest and lengthy prison sentence.

Author: richardsonreports

Author of FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two Story.

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