Published: 09:47, December 16, 2023 | Updated: 13:02, December 16, 2023
Officials blast 'unwarranted' criticism of HK police action
By Xi Tianqi

A man walks past a government public notice banner for the National Security Law in Hong Kong on July 15, 2020. (ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)

HONG KONG – Officials of the central government and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Friday expressed strong disapproval over the “unwarranted” foreign criticisms of the recent law enforcement actions of the Hong Kong Police Force.

The officials are striking back at Western politicians who made the criticisms that defame the National Security Law for Hong Kong (NSL), interfere with the city’s rule of law, and disrupt routine law-enforcement proceedings.

The Hong Kong Police Force announced on Thursday that it is offering HK$1 million ($128,000) bounties for the arrest of Simon Cheng Man-kit, Hui Wing-ting, Joey Siu, Fok Ka-chi, and Choi Ming-da. The five fugitives are wanted on suspicion of inciting secession, inciting subversion of State power, and colluding with external forces to endanger national security.

READ MORE: HK police offer HK$1m bounties for 5 NSL fugitives

The Police Force’s action was followed by statements by some members of the US Congress and British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which expressed their “opposition” to the city’s NSL, and the SAR government’s prosecution of the activists.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said the anti-China troublemakers on the run pose a threat to national security, and the warrants issued by the Hong Kong police are “necessary and justified” and in line with international law and practice.

Mao said the fugitives, disguised as “democracy” and “human rights” advocates, are in fact engaging in activities that jeopardized national security.

She said that the support offered to the fugitives by the US and the UK exposed the countries’ malicious intention to destabilize Hong Kong.

Mao said that the SAR’s affairs are strictly China’s internal affairs and brook no intervention and that China remains resolute in safeguarding its national sovereignty, security, and development interests. She urged the US and UK to respect China’s sovereignty and the rule of law in Hong Kong and to refrain from meddling in China’s internal affairs.

In a separate statement, a spokesperson for the Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry in the HKSAR warned those on the run to abandon their illusions of evading legal consequences.

The spokesperson said that any attempts to undermine national security will not succeed and that the law will catch up with those who have crossed the line.

The spokesperson accused the five of collusion with external forces and of perpetuating disruptive activities, which aimed at challenging the “one country, two systems” principle by establishing advocacy platforms for disruptive activities in Hong Kong and spreading political disinformation.

During a media briefing on Friday, Hong Kong Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung said that the decision to issue a wanted list for the five was based on evidence and prosecutorial guidelines. He cautioned the UK and the US to stop sheltering fugitives and interfering in the SAR’s lawful actions.

Noting the extraterritorial effect of the NSL, Tang emphasized that the fugitives should not assume that holding foreign passports or fleeing overseas will protect them from the reach of the Police Force’s National Security Department.

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He warned that the fugitives, being “protected” and “harbored” for now by the foreign governments for their treachery, will be “abandoned once they become useless”.

He also addressed the recent arrests of four people on suspicion of providing financial support to Ted Hui Chi-fung and Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who are wanted on suspicion of endangering national security, saying that knowingly supporting those involved in crimes against national security could constitute a criminal offense and urged Hong Kong residents to comply with the law.

Ronny Tong Ka-wah, senior counsel and an executive councilor in Hong Kong, said that the criminality of subscribing to paid video channels of the four arrested residents depends on the intention to support acts violating the NSL. If the subscription involves larger amounts — more than hundreds of dollars per month, for example — the argument that it is not supportive becomes less convincing, he added.

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