China is remolding Hong Kong in its own authoritarian image, armed with a national security law that outlaws dissent and has crushed its democracy movement says rights campaigner.
HONG KONG — According to American-born British citizen Bill Browder, Beijing is claiming universal jurisdiction for the security law and in doing so, it means that Chinese authorities will be able to pursue anyone, regardless of their nationality or location, for perceived offenses against China.
Having campaigned for international sanctions against various countries, Browder said he was recently warned by Britain’s Foreign Office that Beijing might target him and other activists if they traveled to countries willing to send suspects back to China to face offenses against the Chinese state.
“They indicated to me that I should be aware of those countries that continue to have extradition treaties with Hong Kong and China and then read off a list of those places,” the rights advocate told AFP in a recent interview.
It was learned that the Chinese government has signed extradition agreements with about 60 countries, ranging from democracies such as Spain to authoritarian states like Iran.
Invoking the Beijing-sponsored national security law, Hong Kong police have charged several pro-democracy personalities, among them local and foreign journalists, with collusion because they campaigned for sanctions. This came through despite the cancellation of extradition agreements of nine western countries with Hong Kong after the security law was passed, and partly because of its extra-territorial claims.
So far Chinese authorities have not publicly made any extradition requests under Hong Kong’s national security law, although they have cited the legislation in an unsuccessful attempt to get a website hosted in Israel to remove content.
Browder said the call was sparked by his name appearing among others in a ‘foreign collusion’ prosecution in Hong Kong that involves jailed Catholic media tycoon Jimmy Lai who have been charged with collusion along with a number of his employed journalists because they campaigned for sanctions through his Apple Daily newspaper, which closed after its assets were frozen under the security law. (TRC/JuanManila)
Featured image: Riot police in Hong Kong await protesters as national security laws are imposed by Beijing. Photo taken24 May 2020. /Credit: Reuters