Defendants face up to life in prison, drawing global scrutiny as city government launches marketing blitz to restore business-hub reputation

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People waited to enter the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts ahead of a hearing for 47 pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong on Monday.

Photo: Lam Yik/Bloomberg News

HONG KONG—Sixteen of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy figures went on trial Monday in a landmark case that saw the city’s opposition effectively snuffed out in the government’s biggest crackdown on political dissent.

The arrests of the 16 in January 2021, part of a larger roundup in which dozens of the city’s most prominent politicians and activists have been detained for more than two years, drew condemnation and sanctions from Washington and its allies. Monday’s trial comes as the city’s government launches a marketing blitz to attract international businesses and tourists by placing advertisements in American news outlets and by giving out half a million free plane tickets.

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