A woman from the Chinese province of Hunan has been fined HK$400 for setting off firecrackers outside the US Consulate in Central last Thursday, shortly after she entered Hong Kong.

The 71-year-old woman, surnamed Luo, pleaded guilty on Thursday at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts to discharging fireworks without permission from the government.

Luo and a man who claimed to be her son.

She pleaded in mitigation that she did not know it was an offence to light firecrackers in Hong Kong.

Luo was arrested last Thursday after a security guard alerted police of the incident. Her 64-year-old friend was also arrested but was later released after a verbal warning.

Luo was not represented by a lawyer on Thursday. She told the court that she wanted to bring public attention to the “many grievances happening in Hong Kong,” according to RTHK.

Local media reported last week that the women claimed they were unfairly treated in China, though police officers found it difficult to communicate with them further due to language barriers.

Handing down the sentence, the magistrate accepted Luo’s plea that she was not familiar with Hong Kong law and that she acted “foolishly.” However, the magistrate rejected her reasoning behind the action.

US Consulate General, Hong Kong. File photo: Baycrest via Wikimedia Commons.

The magistrate said that, while seeking media attention was not a problem, it must be achieved lawfully.

Luo said outside the court that her friend who was released earlier had left Hong Kong.

She was accompanied by a man who identified himself as her son on Thursday. The man told reporters that “the Communist Party belongs to my grandfather” and that he possessed enough assets “to buy the entire world,” Headline Daily reported.

He also gave reporters his name cards, which stated that he was a candidate in Hong Kong’s fifth chief executive election.

Under the Dangerous Goods (General) Regulations, the offence of discharging fireworks without permission carries a maximum penalty of a HK$2,000 fine.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.