Mainland Chinese authorities detained more than 10 Hongkongers who were fleeing to Taiwan on a boat, according to local media reports.
In an Aug. 26 post on Chinese social media, the Chinese regime’s coast guard confirmed that its Guangdong forces intercepted a boat and arrested a group of more than 10 people “suspected of illegally crossing the border” around 9 p.m. on Aug. 23 and has opened an investigation. Two of the arrestees were surnamed Tang and Li, the post said.
The violation could incur a punishment of up to one year in jail with fines under Chinese criminal law.
Hong Kong media, citing anonymous sources, said the group consists of 12 Hong Kong youths who were sailing to Taiwan enroute South China Sea, in a bid to obtain political asylum there.
Hong Kong media reports also identified one person onboard as pro-democracy activist Andy Li, whom the media said helped draft a report detailing Hong Kong police’s power abuses that was published earlier this month.
Hong Kong police had arrested Li, along with nine other pro-democracy figures on Aug. 10, for allegedly violating Beijing’s newly imposed national security law. Police said he colluded with foreign forces and laundered money. Li has since been released on bail.
The law, which went into effect in July, criminalizes actions Beijing deems as secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces with up to life imprisonment.
Hong Kong police commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung said at a Thursday press conference that he was aware of the boat seizure, but said he did not have further details, as the city’s law enforcement was not involved in the operation.
Hongkongers arrested in the mainland who are accused of violating mainland laws will be handled by local authorities according to Chinese regulations, said Tang.
Asked about the incident, deputy minister of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Chiu Chui-cheng said that the island state supports Hong Kong’s freedom and democracy but also would not encourage anyone to come through unlawful means, noting significant safety risks and potential criminal charges. He reiterated the Taiwan government’s pledge to supply “humanitarian assistance” to Hongkongers fleeing the city for political reasons.
In what Beijing critics described as an attempt to “rewrite history,” Hong Kong authorities also arrested 16 pro-democracy activists on Aug. 26, including two opposition leaders, over their role in pro-democracy protests in July last year.
Thirteen of the arrests were linked to an infamous mob attack at the local Yuen Long train station on July 21, 2019, when a mob of men in white shirts beat up civilians, journalists, and lawmakers on site with wooden sticks and metal bars, wounding dozens. By the time police arrived at the scene, the attackers had fled, drawing widespread criticism that police were intentionally turning a blind eye.
Democratic Party lawmakers Lam Cheuk-ting, who was charged with rioting in relation to the incident, was at the scene of the attack and was injured while filming on his phone.
“Hong Kong police have now regressed to being a political tool,” he said in an Aug. 26 video as he opened the door to police officers who arrived at his home to arrest him. Lam said he was a victim framed as an attacker.
From The Epoch Times