US’ Blinken condemns Hong Kong authorities over bounties for activists

Top US diplomat calls on international community to oppose ‘transnational repression’.

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has condemned Hong Kong authorities for placing bounties on five pro-democracy activists based overseas, including a US citizen, calling on the international community to oppose “transnational repression”.

Blinken said on Friday that the bounties of one million Hong Kong dollars ($128,000) for information leading to the activists’ arrest showed Hong Kong authorities’ disregard for international norms and human rights.

“We strongly oppose any efforts to intimidate and silence individuals who choose to make the United States their home and will not waver in standing up for those who are targeted simply for exercising their human rights,” Blinken said in a statement.

“We encourage the international community to join us in condemning this act of transnational repression. The United States remains committed to defending the rights and freedoms of all people and calls on the PRC to act in a manner consistent with its international commitments and legal obligations,” the top US diplomat added, referring to the acronym of China’s official name, the People’s Republic of China.

United Kingdom Foreign Secretary David Cameron earlier condemned Hong Kong authorities’ move as a “threat to our democracy and fundamental human rights”.

Hong Kong authorities on Thursday announced the rewards for information about Joey Siu, Simon Cheng, Frances Hui, Johnny Fok and Tony Choi, all of whom are wanted under the Chinese-ruled territory’s draconian national security law, which claims jurisdiction over the entire planet.

Hong Kong police Chief Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah said the five were suspected of incitement to secession, incitement to subversion, foreign collusion and had “betrayed their own country and betrayed Hong Kong”.

The five have advocated for democracy and civil liberties in Hong Kong from abroad following a sweeping crackdown on the city that has criminalised practically all opposition to Beijing.

Siu holds US citizenship, and Hui was granted asylum in the US in 2021.

Cheng, who was granted asylum by the British government in 2020, Fok and Choi all live in the UK.

In April, Hong Kong authorities announced bounties for information leading to the arrest of eight other overseas-based Hong Kong activists, including former lawmaker Ted Hui.

Siu said on X she would “never be silenced” and would “never back down”.

Hui said her advocacy for democracy and freedom “has not and will not stop”, while Cheng described the charges against him as an “honour”.

Amnesty International said on Thursday that the bounties were “confirmation that the Hong Kong authorities’ systematic dismantling of human rights has officially gone global”.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday hit back at criticism of the bounties, accusing Western governments of revealing their “malicious intentions in messing up Hong Kong”.

About 300 people have been arrested under Hong Kong’s national security law, which has drastically curtailed rights and freedoms that are supposed to distinguish the city from the Chinese mainland under an arrangement known as “one country, two systems”.

Those arrested include Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, the founder of the defunct Apple Daily newspaper, who is set to go on trial from Monday on charges of colluding with foreign forces.

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