Hong Kong democracy activists now living in the West ‘will be pursued for life’

Exiled Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law
Nathan Law, who now lives in exile in Britain, is one of eight Hong Kong pro-democracy activists threatened with lifelong pursuit by pro-Beijing authorities.
(Associated Press)
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Hong Kong’s leader said Tuesday that eight pro-democracy activists who now live in the U.S., Britain, Canada and Australia will be pursued for life for alleged national security offenses, dismissing criticism that the move to have them arrested was a dangerous precedent.

Chief Executive John Lee expressed his support for the police’s efforts to arrest the eight. At his weekly media briefing, Lee said anyone, including the activists’ friends and relatives, who offered information leading to their arrests would be eligible for bounties offered by police.

“The only way to end their destiny of being an abscondee who will be pursued for life is to surrender,” he said.


The arrest warrants were issued for former pro-democracy lawmakers Nathan Law, Ted Hui and Dennis Kwok; lawyer Kevin Yam; unionist Mung Siu-tat; and activists Finn Lau, Anna Kwok and Elmer Yuen. They were accused of breaching the Beijing-imposed national security law by committing offenses such as collusion and inciting secession.

More than 260 people have been arrested under the law, enacted in 2020, as part of a broad crackdown on dissent in the territory, but the rewards of 1 million Hong Kong dollars ($127,600) for information leading to each arrest were the first under the law.

The move quickly drew ire from the U.S. and British governments, which took issue with the extraterritorial application of the security law. The U.S. said such an application of the security law was a dangerous precedent that threatened human rights. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong also tweeted that her country was “deeply concerned” by reports of Hong Kong authorities issuing arrest warrants for democracy advocates.

A Hong Kong court has convicted three activists from a now-defunct group for failing to provide authorities with information about the group.

March 4, 2023

But Lee insisted that extraterritorial power exists in the national security laws of many countries. He said that overseas officials’ and politicians’ comments would not change his administration’s strong belief in safeguarding national security.

“I’m not afraid of any political pressure that is put on us because we do what we believe is right,” he said.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said China strongly deplored other countries’ “flagrant slandering” of its national security law for Hong Kong. “Justice will never be delayed or absent,” she said.


The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s office in Hong Kong also rejected the criticism from the U.S. and Britain, warning “foreign interference forces” to stop shielding “criminals” immediately.

Canadian police are investigating allegations that China is secretly operating two overseas police stations in Montreal and one of its suburbs.

March 10, 2023

The row reflects a fresh source of contention between Beijing and the West over the alleged overseas reach of China’s enforcement agencies following the issue of China’s alleged “secret overseas police stations.” These stations have been reported across North America, Europe and in other countries where Chinese communities include critics of the Communist Party who have family or business contacts in China. Beijing denies that they are police stations, saying that they exist mainly to provide citizen services such as renewing driver’s licenses.

Hong Kong Secretary for Security Chris Tang intensified the crackdown on the eight activists, saying authorities were seeking to cut access to their finances, including freezing and confiscating their assets. Investigations will be conducted to find out who supports them financially in Hong Kong and overseas, Tang said.

He warned that anyone who assisted them in endangering national security could be violating the law.

But Hong Kong’s further crackdown did not stop these overseas activists from speaking up.

China is targeting government opponents through financial institutions using a draconian national security law that’s already led to U.S. sanctions.

Dec. 16, 2020

Law, who is accused of foreign collusion and inciting secession, said on Facebook that the latest development signaled he was again being targeted by China’s ruling Communist Party and that he felt the “invisible pressure.” However, he refused to surrender.

“All I did was reasonable, justifiable and peaceful advocacy work,” the British-based activist said.


Yam told Australian media that the move was not completely unexpected. “The only remaining voices of dissent are now outside Hong Kong, and that’s where they’re expanding to next,” he said of pro-China authorities.

Mung also pledged in a statement that he would not cease advocacy work for Hong Kong labor rights abroad.

Thousands of people from Hong Kong are fleeing increasing Chinese control over their lives and moving to Britain, which ruled the city for 156 years.

Sept. 10, 2021

“If I were ever found guilty, my only ‘crime’ would be speaking the truth for my fellow Hong Kongers,” he said.

Anna Kwok tweeted that she would not back down. She reiterated her call to bar Lee, who was sanctioned by Washington over his involvement in the harsh crackdown on rights in Hong Kong, from attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in November in the U.S.

Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, has come under increasingly tight scrutiny by Beijing following months of mass pro-democracy protests in 2019.

Police on Monday acknowledged that they would not be able to arrest the eight if they remained overseas.


Eunice Yung, a pro-Beijing lawmaker, who is Yuen’s daughter-in-law, supported the police’s move on her Facebook page, reiterating that she had already cut ties with Yuen last August.

“All his acts have nothing to do with me,” she said.