Hong Kong Protest Icon Mysteriously Vanished. Then She Returned, Unbowed.

Last month, one full year after the initial bail period began, she was given the necessary paperwork allowing her to leave Shenzhen and return to Hong Kong. She now stays in a small hotel room in Hong Kong’s New Territories, but the city she has returned to is much different from the one she remembers.

The streets are no longer filled with protesters and police officers. The government has banned gatherings of more than four people, a measure meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus that has also proved useful against the protests.

And the national security law has been used to target dissidents for what the authorities have called secession and terrorism. The activist Tony Chung, 19, was charged with secession and conspiracy to publish seditious material. He was arrested last month near the United States Consulate, where, an advocacy group said, he had planned to seek shelter. Tim Luk, another activist, was arrested on Monday and accused of aiding Mr. Chung.

The United States has criticized the growing crackdown in Hong Kong and sanctioned key officials. On Monday, it added four more Chinese and Hong Kong officials to its list, barring them from traveling to the United States and freezing any assets they might have in the country.

For Ms. Wong, protesting now comes with greater risks. Waving a Union Jack — in her mind a symbol of the rights protected by the British government, not an endorsement of colonialism — has become “very dangerous,” she said. But detention has only strengthened her resolve for democracy.

Despite the pledges she made under duress, she continues to protest, and recently took the subway for an hour to the northeast corner of Hong Kong Island, where a trial is scheduled to begin for six young demonstrators charged with illegal assembly.

She walked to the courthouse carrying a handwritten sign: “Save HK Youths.”

The police officers at the courthouse paid little attention to her, and when she spoke to reporters, her voice barely carried over the breeze. “I have to continue so that we will be victorious one day,” she said. “I am sure we will overcome.”

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