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Hong Kong invokes a brand new regulation to cancel passports of 6 overseas-based activists, together with Nathan Law

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A profile of needed exiled activist Nathan Law, is seen on a noticeboard exterior a police station in Hong Kong, China, on June 12, 2024.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

The Hong Kong authorities on Wednesday cancelled the passports of six overseas-based activists underneath the brand new nationwide safety regulation, stepping up its crackdown on dissidents who moved overseas.

Among them have been former pro-democracy lawmaker Nathan Law, unionist Mung Siu-tat and activists Simon Cheng, Finn Lau, Johnny Fok and Tony Choi — all accused of endangering nationwide safety by authorities within the southern Chinese metropolis. The authorities mentioned they’ve “absconded” to the U.Ok.

Last yr, police provided rewards of 1 million Hong Kong {dollars} ($128,000) every for data resulting in their arrests and drew sharp criticism from Western governments.

Authorities additionally banned anybody from offering funds or financial sources to the six, leasing properties to them or forming any three way partnership with them, or danger a penalty of as much as seven years in jail.

The authorities mentioned it acted as a result of the six have been persevering with to interact in actions that endanger nationwide safety, smearing town and colluding with exterior forces.

“We have to combat, deter and to prevent those people who have committed the offenses relating to endangering national security through absconds,” mentioned Secretary for Security Chris Tang mentioned. He mentioned the six activists have been sheltered within the U.Ok. and accused some British officers and media shops of making an attempt to break the rule of regulation within the monetary hub and affect judicial choices in some nationwide safety instances.

Mr. Tang, when requested whether or not subscribing to the activists’ accounts on Patreon and YouTube is unlawful, mentioned anybody who gives funds to them can be seen as violating the principles, whatever the platform.

The measures have been taken underneath the brand new powers granted by Hong Kong’s homegrown nationwide safety regulation enacted in March.

Beijing imposed an identical nationwide safety regulation on the territory in 2020 that has successfully worn out most public dissent following enormous anti-government protests in 2019. Many activists have been arrested, silenced or pressured into self-exile.

Both the Chinese and Hong Kong governments insisted the regulation restored stability after the protests.

Over 144,400 individuals from Hong Kong have moved to the U.Ok. utilizing a particular visa that enables them to reside and work within the nation and apply for British citizenship after six years. The U.Ok. launched the pathway in 2021, in response to the 2020 safety regulation.

Additionally, the British authorities granted asylum to activists Mr. Law and Mr. Cheng.

Mr. Law mentioned on Facebook he had submitted his passport to U.Ok. authorities when he utilized for asylum in 2020, and has not collected it again, calling the federal government’s assertion “a redundant move.” He urged individuals who stay in Hong Kong to prioritize their security if the opposite restrictions underneath the brand new regulation fear them.

Mr. Lau mentioned on X that he by no means owned a Hong Kong passport, so “it is ridiculous to cancel something that never exists.” He mentioned the most recent measure is an act of transnational repression, however that it will not deter him from advocating for human rights and democracy.

Mr. Mung additionally vowed to continued to battle for Hong Kong, whereas Mr. Cheng mentioned the federal government’s strikes have been politically motivated and ineffective, including that their lives within the U.Ok wouldn’t be affected.

In Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian mentioned the measures taken by Hong Kong authorities have been authentic and essential to safeguard town’s rule of regulation and nationwide safety. He careworn that town’s affairs are China’s inside affairs and “brook no external interference.”

Hong Kong’s political adjustments have lengthy been a supply of pressure between the U.Ok. and town authorities, in addition to with Beijing because of the territory’s distinctive historical past as a former British colony that was returned to China in 1997 with a promise to maintain freedoms of expression and meeting.

Last week, two British judges confirmed they resigned from town’s high court docket, with one citing as the explanation “the political scenario in Hong Kong.” The different revealed a strongly worded article on Monday that mentioned the rule of regulation within the metropolis is in “grave danger” and that judges function in an “impossible political environment created by China.”

That article drew swift criticism from the Hong Kong authorities.

In May, U.Ok. authorities charged three males with agreeing to interact in data gathering, surveillance and acts of deception that have been more likely to materially help the Hong Kong intelligence service. One of the trio was later discovered lifeless in a park.

Chinese authorities within the U.Ok. and Hong Kong have decried the costs, saying they have been the most recent in a collection of “groundless and slanderous” accusations that the U.Ok. authorities has leveled towards China.

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