China’s marine police have captured 12 Hongkongers trying to flee to Taiwan by speedboat, including one activist earlier arrested and bailed under the new national security law.

The group set out from Sai Kung and were headed for Kaohsiung in Taiwan, a source told Stand News. The marine police department in China’s Guangdong province stopped their speedboat on Sunday at around 9am and arrested the group on suspicion of illegal border crossing.

fire flyover bridge poly-u armoured police car
Flames on a flyover leading to Hong Kong Polytechnic University where an armoured police car face protester umbrellas. Photo: Tam Ming Keung/United Social Press

Among those on board were local activist Andy Li, according to numerous media reports. Li was arrested under the national security law on August 10 when police rounded up 10 pro-democracy figures and members of the press, including Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai and his two sons.

All 12 on board were criminally charged and released on bail – some in connection with last year’s protests including homemade bombs cases, Stand News reported. I-Cable News cited a source as saying that four of them belonged to a frontline group known as “Dragon Slayers” which was allegedly involved in making homemade bombs.

Hong Kong officials have not yet confirmed details of the case. Police Commissioner Chris Tang told reporters on Thursday that the force does not have information as yet.

He said mainland Chinese authorities would handle cases of illegal border crossing by Hongkongers in accordance with relevant legislation and inform the Hong Kong government. If those involved were wanted by Hong Kong police, they would be transferred to the city.

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Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.