“I was originally scheduled to return to Hong Kong by the end of December to report to police regarding the national security law [case],” she said in a social media post on Sunday. “But after careful consideration, including the situation in Hong Kong, my personal safety, physical and mental health, I have decided not to go back.”
She had been in Canada for three months and was studying for her master’s degree, she said, adding: “I probably will never return.”
The activist said that following her application to leave Hong Kong for further studies in Canada, she was told by police this summer that she could take back her passport after going on a trip they would arrange to Shenzhen to learn about the country’s achievements.
Chow, who co-founded the now-disbanded Demosisto alongside fellow young activists Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Nathan Law Kwun-chung advocating self-determination for Hong Kong, was the poster girl of the city’s pro-democracy movement and had drawn a sizable following on social media in Japan because of her proficiency in the language.
She said that in August five officers accompanied her to Shenzhen, where she visited an exhibition on the country’s opening up and the headquarters of Tencent, a trip intended to show the “remarkable achievements” of the Chinese Communist Party leaders and the nation’s technological development. Chow recounted in her social media post of being very afraid during the trip over the border.
She was subsequently asked to pen a letter expressing gratitude to police for the arrangement that allowed her to “understand the great development of the motherland”, the activist said.
She insisted it was “wrong” for anyone to accuse her of deliberately deceiving national security authorities, saying she had initially bought a return ticket to Hong Kong and only made the decision to stay in Canada out of fear that police would impose additional conditions on her movement if she returned.
“I don’t want to be forced to do things I don’t want to do any more, and don’t want to be forced to go to mainland China any more. If this continues, my body and mind will collapse even if I am personally safe,” she said.
Chow also described how she came to understand the value of “freedom without fear” in recent years.
“Now that I no longer need to worry about further arrest, I can finally say what I want to say and do what I want,” she added.
Chow added she had suffered from mental health issues, including anxiety disorder and depression, in recent years.
The Post has contacted police for comment.
Chow was jailed for 10 months in December 2020 on charges related to a siege of police headquarters during the 2019 anti-government protests. She kept a low profile and only updated her social media account with a brief message posted on the day of her release in June 2021.
Joshua Wong is currently on remand for his role in an unofficial primary election which authorities say was a plot to subvert state power.