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Hong Kong Leader Vows to Pursue Activists for Life on Alleged National Security Offenses

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Vows to Pursue Pro-Democracy Activists “For Life”


Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee has pledged to pursue eight pro-democracy activists for the rest of their lives after they were issued arrest warrants for alleged national security offenses. Lee stated that endangering national security is a serious crime and that the government will use all legal means to hold these individuals accountable, even if they flee the country. Surrender is the only solution for them, according to Lee.

The Arrest Warrants

The Hong Kong police have accused the eight overseas activists of offenses under the national security law, including foreign collusion, subversion, and incitement to succession. This controversial law was imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 following anti-China protests. The legislation aims to prohibit secession, subversion of state power, terrorism activities, and foreign interference. Critics argue that it undermines the autonomy promised to Hong Kong after its handover from the U.K. to China.

Reward for Information

The police have offered a reward of 1 million Hong Kong dollars for information leading to the arrest of each activist. They have also warned the public that it is illegal to offer any form of financial assistance to these individuals.

International Reactions

The U.S. has condemned the arrest warrants, calling the extraterritorial application of the national security law a dangerous precedent that threatens human rights and fundamental freedoms. The State Department has urged the Hong Kong government to withdraw the "bounty" and stop asserting the national security law internationally.

The governments of Australia and the U.K. have also expressed deep concern and pledged to defend the universal right to freedom of expression. The accused activists include Nathan Law, Anna Kwok, Finn Lau, Mung Siu-tat, Yuan Gong-yi, Dennis Kwok, Ted Hui, and Kevin Yam. Many Hong Kong activists have sought asylum in countries like the U.S., U.K., and Australia after leaving the city. The charges against them also include accusations of "instigating" foreign powers to impose sanctions on Hong Kong and China.

Potential Impact on New Business

The ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, as highlighted by Chief Executive John Lee's vow to pursue them "for life," has the potential to have a significant impact on businesses operating in or considering operations in Hong Kong. The arrest warrants issued for these activists under the controversial national security law raise concerns about the erosion of civil liberties, the rule of law, and the autonomy promised to Hong Kong.

For new businesses, especially those with a focus on human rights or democracy, this situation poses risks to their operations. The extraterritorial application of the national security law sends a chilling message to individuals and organizations advocating for democratic values. It may deter potential investors, partners, or customers who fear repercussions or legal complications associated with doing business in Hong Kong.

Moreover, the international condemnation of these arrest warrants by countries like the U.S., U.K., and Australia indicates a potential strain in diplomatic relations and may lead to economic consequences for those doing business with Hong Kong. The possibility of targeted sanctions or restrictions imposed by these countries further adds to the uncertainty surrounding the business environment.

It is crucial for new businesses to carefully assess the potential implications of these developments on their operations and consider the ethical and legal considerations associated with operating in a jurisdiction with shrinking political freedoms. A thorough understanding of the local laws and their potential impact on freedom of expression and human rights is essential when making strategic decisions about business expansion into Hong Kong.

Article First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/07/04/hong-kong-leader-vows-to-pursue-8-overseas-activists-for-life.html

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