Hong Kong police have accused five activists based overseas of violating the harsh national security law imposed by Beijing. In a bid to apprehend them, rewards of 1 million Hong Kong dollars ($128,000) have been offered for information leading to each of their arrests.
This move further intensifies the Hong Kong government's crackdown on dissidents following the anti-government protests in 2019. Since the introduction of the security law in 2020, many prominent pro-democracy activists have been arrested, silenced, or forced into self-exile. This has significantly undermined the freedoms that were promised to the former British colony when it returned to China in 1997.
Both the Beijing and Hong Kong governments have lauded the security law, claiming that it has restored stability to the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
Arrest warrants have been issued for Johnny Fok and Tony Choi, who host a YouTube channel focusing on current affairs, as well as pro-democracy activists Simon Cheng, Hui Wing-ting, and Joey Siu. Although their exact whereabouts are unknown, their social media profiles and earlier media reports suggest that they have relocated to the United States and Britain.
According to Li, the five newly added activists on the wanted list are accused of various offenses, including colluding with foreign forces and incitement to secession.
"They all betrayed their own country and betrayed Hong Kong," he declared during a news conference. "After they fled overseas, they continued to engage in activities endangering national security."
Arrests Made in Funding of Pro-Democracy Lawmakers
Police have recently arrested four individuals who are suspected of providing financial support to pro-democracy lawmakers Nathan Law and Ted Hui. These arrests come after the police targeted a total of eight activists in July. The accused allegedly used an "online subscription and crowdfunding platform" to fund acts of secession, with amounts ranging from 10,000 to 120,000 Hong Kong dollars.
Defiance and Advocacy Continues
Despite the arrests, some of the activists remain undeterred. Cheng, formerly known as Twitter, expressed his embrace of the charges and even referred to being hunted by China's secret police as a lifelong honor. Siu also took to Twitter, vowing to never back down or allow her voice to be silenced. Hui echoed similar sentiments, stating that her advocacy for democracy and freedom will persist.