Twelve Hong Kong people arrested while reportedly sailing to Taiwan for political asylum are in need of “treatment” from mainland China, but the city government is trying to help, executive director Carrie Lam said Tuesday.
The Chinese authorities arrested the 12 people on August 23 after intercepting a boat off the coast of the southern mainland province of Guangdong. Local media reported that they traveled to Taiwan to apply for political asylum.
“The question is not just about getting it back,” Lam said at a regular weekly press conference.
“If these Hong Kong residents are arrested for violating mainland violations, they must be treated under mainland law and jurisdiction before other things can happen.”
Lam added that it is her government’s “duty to provide assistance to Hong Kong residents” imprisoned in “all kinds of situations” abroad and that the government representative office in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, will seek ways to provide that assistance and to contact the authorities on the mainland.
The AFP news agency reported Monday that lawyers representing some of the prisoners had been denied access to their clients. Lam did not address this particular aspect when asked.
Neither the mainland nor Hong Kong authorities have publicly confirmed who was arrested, but local media noted that some of them have been prosecuted for engaging in pro-democracy protests over the past year.
One man, Andy Li, was recently arrested under an extensive national security law that Beijing imposed on the semi-autonomous Asian financial center on June 30th. Another is a dual national with Hong Kong and Portuguese citizenship.
The Guangdong Coast Guard, which posted the arrests on its social media platform late August 26, said two of the detainees had the surnames Li and Tang, without providing further details.
It is not clear what charges they face beyond the potentially illegal border crossing.
Lam also reiterated a remark made last week that raised further concerns that Hong Kong had taken a more authoritarian turn and that the city was lacks power and that its executive, legislative and judicial powers were derived from Beijing.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)