Hong Kong says it can target anyone in the world after Canadian journalist charged, Hong Kong says it will prosecute anyone who violates the city’s widely condemned national security law — ‘regardless of their background or where they’re located’ by Tom Blackwell, Aug 31, 2022, Edmonton Journal
The Hong Kong government has defended its charges against a Canadian critic of the regime, saying anyone who violates the city’s widely condemned national security law — “regardless of their background or where they’re located” — will be prosecuted.
The comment drives home what has been a fear of overseas activists since the law was enacted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2020 – that it could be used as a threat, at least, against dissidents anywhere in the world.
Meanwhile, accused B.C. resident Victor Ho said top federal government leaders must make a clear statement that foreign governments cannot employ such tactics against Canadians — something no member of cabinet has yet to do.Money and cowardice rules them.
Intelligence agency and Global Affairs Canada employees have made contact with Ho, however, and a Global Affairs official issued a statement Wednesday saying it is “very concerned” that the national security law (NSL) is being applied to Canadians.
Earlier this month, the Hong Kong security bureau announced it was charging Ho — a long-time Canadian citizen and retired newspaper editor ‚ and two U.S. residents with breach of the security law’s “subversion” section.
Their offence was to spearhead a Toronto-based plan to set up a sort of parliament in exile for Hong Kong, chosen by online elections involving residents of the enclave and its diaspora in other countries.
“Acts and activities that endanger national security have very serious consequences, and hence actions must be taken to prevent and suppress such acts and activities, to ensure that individuals endangering national security will face legal consequences,” bureau spokesman Tommy Wu told National Post by email this week.
Asked if it would be possible to prosecute another nation’s citizen for an act that occurred in that country, he answered in the affirmative.
“It should also be pointed out that the NSL has extraterritorial effect,” said Wu. “Any persons or entities who violate the NSL, regardless of their background or where they are located, will be dealt with by the HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) government in accordance with the law.”
While Canada and some other countries do allow prosecution of wrongdoing that occurred outside the country — such as terrorist attacks by or against Canadians — they typically target conventional criminal acts, not mere criticism of a government.
The affair began when Ho and other Hong Kong natives in Canada and the U.S. announced last month they were launching the overseas parliament.
It’s a largely symbolic response to Chinese government actions that have gutted Hong Kong’s legislative council of its limited democratic elements, part of a sweeping crackdown on freedoms there.
The security bureau declared Aug. 3 that Ho, former Hong Kong legislator Baggio Leung and ex-Hong Kong democracy activist Yuan Gong-yi — the latter two both now Washington, D.C., residents — were suspected of committing the offence of “subverting the state power” under the NSL’s article 22.
“Police shall spare no efforts in pursuing the cases in accordance with the law in order to bring the offenders to justice,” said a news release, which also warned Hong Kong residents they could risk legal trouble themselves if they associate with such individuals.
The law’s article 38 says it can apply to offences committed “from outside the region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the region.”
The charges against Ho and the two others may mark the first use of the section.
The B.C. journalist urged top federal leaders to make a clear statement decrying such actions.
Ottawa “should send a message to other governments that you can’t treat Canadian citizens like this, you can’t demonize Canadian citizens for activities that are completely acceptable in a democratic society.”
In a brief response Aug. 18 to colleagues of Ho who had written Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his situation, the prime minister’s office said their letter had been passed on to Public Safety Minister Marco Mendocino.
Asked about the issue and whether the government had spoken to Hong Kong or China representatives about Ho’s case, Mendocino’s office forwarded the query to Global Affairs.
The department said Wednesday that Ottawa has grave concerns about the “rapid deterioration” of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong and had responded with various actions, including suspending an extradition treaty, imposing export-control measures and launching new immigration avenues for residents of the city.
“We are very concerned by the application of the National Security Law against any Canadians,” said the statement.
Ho immigrated to Canada in 1997 and became a citizen in 2001, working as editor in chief of the Vancouver edition of Sing Tao, the country’s largest Chinese-language newspaper at the time.
He said the NSL charges mean he cannot travel to Hong Kong, where he has relatives, and he’s advised other family members not to visit the city. In terms of his own safety, he met with a Canadian Security Intelligence Service It’s unwise to trust anyone at or involved with CSISofficer on Monday and was contacted by a Global Affairs Canada official, both of whom offered help.
He said there is no way Hong Kong could pursue the charges against him except through kidnapping or other illegal means.
Guy Saint-Jacques, Canadian ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016, said his outspoken criticism of Beijing and the current Hong Kong administration means both the mainland and the city are off limits for him now, as well as countries that have extradition treaties with them.
The NSL “has far-reaching consequences for anyone who has criticized or would dare to question the Chinese leadership or policies anywhere in the world,” he said.
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