Hong Kong teen activist arrested for allegedly seeking asylum at US consulate

Police said 17 men and two men under the age of 21 and a woman were arrested Tuesday in connection with separatist comments on social media.

Studentlogalism, a one-time pro-independence group, identified the trio on Facebook as its former convener Tony Chung and former members William Chan and Yani Ho.

According to Friends of Hong Kong, a popular organization based in the United Kingdom, it said it was collaborating with Sung, who had planned to seek asylum in the US consulate in Hong Kong before his arrest.

There were also three student location members He was previously arrested in July Regarding posts made on social media by one side claiming to represent the international hand of the group.

The Hong Kong branch of the organization said it was disbanded shortly after the National Security Act was imposed on the city by Chinese authorities, banning secession, subjugation and alliances with foreign forces.

Police allege that Chung and still live in Hong Kong continue to advocate for the city’s independence from China, which carries a sentence of three to 10 years in prison or life imprisonment for crimes of a “serious nature.” The accused denied having any connection to the separatist positions in question.

Security guards are seen outside the US consulate in Hong Kong on October 27, 2020.

A Hong Kong government spokesman told CNN on Wednesday that he would not comment on the media reports of the arrests, but that “there is no justification for the so-called ‘political asylum’ for people in Hong Kong.”

“It should be emphasized that people in Hong Kong are being prosecuted for acts contrary to the laws of Hong Kong, regardless of their political beliefs or background. Furthermore, trials are conducted in accordance with the principles of law by an independent judiciary,” he added.

Since the enactment of the National Security Act earlier this year, a growing number of Hong Kongers have applied for asylum abroad. Washington said It prioritizes refugees from Hong Kong, and American politicians have been vocal in criticizing China’s continued repression of the city’s autonomy and democratic freedoms.

However, sheltering activists within Hong Kong could be a major expansion and could cause a diplomatic firestorm for both Washington and Beijing, which could affect the future of the Hong Kong embassy.

CNN has approached the US Consulate in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office for comment.

According to American law, Washington “does not offer asylum on its diplomatic premises abroad.” Those who wish to seek refugee status must be in the United States to do so. Although the US embassy in Beijing has provided security for some activists in the past, this is exceptionally rare, causing major political headaches for Washington each time.
In 1989, following the repression in Tiananmen Square, Dissatisfied educator Pang Lishi He fled to the US embassy, ​​where he spent a year before Beijing agreed to allow him to leave China. In 2012, legal activist Chen Guangcheng was released after several months under house arrest. Gave the embassy a dramatic break When then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Beijing. He was also allowed to leave the country after tense talks between US and Chinese officials.
When insulted former police chief Wang Lijun took refuge at the US consulate in Chengdu the same year, He walked away. Wang was at the end Sentenced to 15 years in prison On corruption charges.
The difference between an embassy and an embassy can be important. Embassies are protected under international law, and closing or entering the premises could trigger a major diplomatic crisis. However, embassies are less secure, and countries may be ordered to suspend operations, as the United States and China did earlier this year. Title to cover each country’s respective trips in Houston and Chengdu.
The incident came after Washington claimed it was the Houston embassy in China Trapped in espionage operations, U.S. officials blame Beijing’s work in San Francisco Refuge for the fleeing Chinese scientist. That scientist, Tang Juan, later Surrendered to police in California.

The circumstances for Tank’s surrender are unclear, but it may have been triggered by fears that the United States may have moved to close the San Francisco consulate. U.S. officials may be ashamed to offer any asylum to dissidents in Hong Kong, the most important U.S. mission in Greater China after the Beijing embassy.

When the embassy was closed earlier this year, some Chinese state media outlets called for the closure of the Hong Kong embassy, ​​accusing the United States of taking influential measures. While Beijing now appears to be shying away from any major expansion, given Hong Kong’s economic importance and the number of Americans living in the city, the loss of the Hong Kong mission would be a major blow to Washington both diplomatically and practically.

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