Hong Kong’s arrest warrants for activists overseas show that exile and foreign nationality are no protection against the city’s sweeping national security law, one of the targeted dissidents has warned.
Democracy campaigner and US citizen Samuel Chu, who runs the Hong Kong Democracy Council in Washington, said Friday he had learned he is wanted for allegedly “inciting secession and colluding with foreign powers”.
Chinese state media earlier reported Hong Kong police had ordered the arrest of six pro-democracy activists living in exile on suspicion of violating the new law.
“Hong Kong police is targeting a US citizen for lobbying my own government. I might be the first non-Chinese citizen to be targeted, but I will not be the last,” Chu said on Twitter.
“If I am targeted, any American, any citizen of any nation who speaks out for HK can-and will be-too,” he added.
It is the first time authorities have invoked the law’s extraterritorial jurisdiction to go after activists not in Hong Kong.
Others wanted by Hong Kong police include prominent democracy activist Nathan Law who recently fled the city for Britain, and Simon Cheng, a former British consulate staffer who was granted asylum in the UK after allegedly being tortured in China.
The city’s pro-democracy camp has come under sustained attack since Beijing imposed the security law last month — a move China’s leaders described as a “sword” hanging over the head of its critics.
The legislation targets subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces with up to life in prison, but rights groups and critics say it is a legal weapon to silence dissidents and criminalise certain political views.
Since the law came into effect, a dozen leading pro-democracy campaigners have been disqualified from running in legislative elections, and four students — one of them only aged 16 — have been arrested on suspicion of “inciting succession” on social media.
“The arrests, the disqualifications, the wanted bulletins — these are indications of our need to remain active on the global stage,” activist Law, 27, said on Facebook.
“That Hong Kong has no place for even such moderate views like ours underscores the absurdity of Chinese Communist rule.”
Law said the charges against him were “trumped-up” and his only “crime” is that he “loves Hong Kong too much”.
“I hope… that all of you can stand strong to resist the white terror rather than succumb to self-censorship,” he added.