Financial TimesFinancial Times

She was loved for standing up to China. She may die in jail

By Primrose Riordan and Chan Ho-him

23 Jun 2022 · 10 min read

Editor's Note

The FT dives deep into the sad story of a jailed pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong just as China’s leader is set to visit Hong Kong to mark 25 years since the city returned to Chinese rule.

Just after dawn on January 6 2021, Claudia Mo’s housekeeper heard a sharp knock at the front door. The early hour, and Mo’s profile as a prominent opposition politician, made the housekeeper wary. She opened the door a crack, leaving the safety chain in place, and saw a troop of police outside. The housekeeper rushed to wake Mo, but the officers smashed through into the living room. “It was just thuggery, sheer thuggery,” said one person with knowledge of the raid.

Mo, who was then 64 years old, was arrested and taken to Aberdeen police station on the south side of Hong Kong island. Her husband, the 79-year-old British journalist and historian Philip Bowring, was left to sit in shock in the sudden quiet of their home. Similar scenes were playing out across the city as hundreds of police officers pulled a dragnet over Hong Kong and arrested more than 50 pro-democracy advocates — academics, activists and politicians.

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