WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday (Jul 3) condemned Hong Kong authorities for issuing bounties linked to democracy activists based abroad, saying the move sets a dangerous precedent that could threaten human rights.
Hong Kong police offered bounties of HK$1 million (about US$127,600) for information leading to the capture of eight prominent dissidents who live abroad and are wanted for national security crimes.
All eight fled Hong Kong after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the financial hub in 2020 to quell dissent after huge, sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in 2019 were quashed.
The move has been criticised by the US, Britain and Australia – countries where some of the wanted activists reside.
“The United States condemns the Hong Kong Police Force’s issuance of an international bounty” against the eight activists, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.
“The extraterritorial application of the Beijing-imposed National Security Law is a dangerous precedent that threatens the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people all over the world,” he added, saying China is engaging in “transnational repression efforts”.
“We call on the Hong Kong government to immediately withdraw this bounty, respect other countries’ sovereignty, and stop the international assertion of the National Security Law imposed by Beijing.”
“PROTECTION TO FUGITIVES”
China has accused the UK of giving protection to fugitives after its foreign secretary slammed Hong Kong’s decision to offer the bounties.
“British politicians have openly offered protection for fugitives,” a spokesperson for Beijing’s embassy in London said in a statement late Monday.
“This is crude interference in Hong Kong’s rule of law and China’s internal affairs,” they continued. “China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firmly opposes this.”
In response to the accusations against the activists, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said London would “not tolerate any attempts by China to intimidate and silence individuals in the UK and overseas”.
But Beijing hit back, with its embassy on Monday calling for “the relevant British politicians to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and Hong Kong’s matters, and stop using these anti-China Hong Kong disruptors to jeopardise China’s sovereignty and security.”
“The people of China oppose foreign interference. Their resolve to protect their own interests is firm as a rock, and will not waver!” the spokesperson added.