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Community in Hong Kong and human rights organizations are urging Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to use his upcoming visit to China to protect an Australian citizen\

  • Gordon Ng faces a maximum life sentence after being charged under Hong Kong's National Security Law.
  • He is said to have helped organize unofficial primary elections for Hong Kong's legislative bodies.
  • In a letter written in prison, he said he misses Australia.
  • Anthony Albanese is scheduled to visit China next month.

Gordon Ng, 45, was one of 47 Hong Kong politicians and activists advocating for democracy who were charged with "subversion" and detained in early 2021.

Mr. Ng moved from Hong Kong to Australia in his childhood, where he became a citizen.

However, according to a friend, he considers himself a "Sydneysider."

But he had lived in Hong Kong for 15 years when he was arrested.

Mr. Ng is expected to stand trial by the end of the year, facing a maximum life sentence under Hong Kong's National Security Law (NSL).

In a letter written in prison, Mr. Ng said he misses Australia.

"Life behind bars is torturous not so much physically but mentally exhausting due to the endless boredom," he said. "It's during these trips down memory lane that I've realized my thoughts constantly return to Australia, a country I've called home since the age of 13. All this just begs the question, when will I ever be able to return to Australia, if at all?"

ABC received the letter through a source close to Mr. Ng who did not wish to be named for security reasons.

Anthony Albanese and Xi Jinping smile and shake hands Anthony Albanese is set to visit China next month. (Twitter: Anthony Albanese) Mr. Albanese is scheduled to visit China for three days starting from November 4.

In a petition letter organized by the Australian Hong Kong community, deep concerns are expressed about the potential lengthy imprisonment facing Mr. Ng, and hopes that the Prime Minister will advocate for him during his stay in China.

"As you seek to restore diplomatic and economic ties with [China], we sincerely urge you not to lose sight of pressing human rights concerns," the letter says.

"Mr. Ng has consistently asserted his innocence and is actively preparing his defense in hopes of a fair trial. We implore you to demand access to him, humane treatment, and a fair trial."

Australian officials denied access Flags of China and Hong Kong can be seen on a pedestrian bridge as decoration for the celebration of National Day. According to the Hong Kong government, in the first half of 2023, 260 people were arrested under the National Security Law. (Reuters: Tyrone Siu) The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said last year, Australian officials were repeatedly denied access to the Australian accused of subversion in Hong Kong "because this individual is considered a Chinese national under China's nationality laws, which do not recognize dual nationality."

At the time, the department did not identify Mr. Ng as an Australian.

ABC has requested further information from the department.

According to the Hong Kong Immigration Department, residents of Hong Kong who are "Chinese by descent" or "born in Chinese territories (including Hong Kong)" are considered Chinese nationals regardless of whether they use foreign passports to travel to other countries.

Individuals are not eligible for consular protection in other countries if they do not renounce their Chinese nationality and obtain approval from the Hong Kong Immigration Department.

Australian lawyer Kevin Yam said that the rule regarding access to consulates and citizenship had been applied in Hong Kong before Mr. Ng's arrest.

"The question really is: is this rule fair? And is it fairly applied in different contexts?" Mr. Yam said. "Of course, it's unfair."

Woman looking into camera Daniela Gavshon said the Prime Minister should exert pressure on the Chinese government to drop the charges and release Mr. Ng. (Supplied: Daniela Gavshon) Daniela Gavshon, the Australian director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), told ABC that Mr. Ng's case is "one of many examples of the relentless efforts of the Chinese government to suppress the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong."

"During your upcoming visit, Prime Minister Albanese, you must pressure the Chinese government to drop the charges and release Gordon Ng, as well as other individuals who have fallen victim to the overly broad National Security Law and its arbitrary application," Ms. Gavshon said.

Ms. Gavshon said the Australian government has a duty to assist Mr. Ng.

"Gordon Ng is an Australian citizen, and the Australian government must insist on providing him access," she said.