Hong Kong issued arrest warrants for six prominent pro-democracy activists on Friday, including one American citizen — the first instance that the city’s controversial new national security law has been used against someone living in the U.S.
Samuel Chu explained on Twitter that he had woken up to Hong Kong media reports proclaiming him a “wanted fugitive” accused of “inciting secession” and “colluding with foreign powers.”
“I might be the first non-Chinese citizen to be targeted, but I will not be the last,” Chu wrote. “If I am targeted, any American and any citizen of any nation who speaks out for Hong Kong can, and will be, too. We are all Hong Kongers now.”
HK police is targeting a US citizen for lobbying my own gov’t. I might be the 1st non-Chinese citizen to be targeted, but I will not be the last. If I am targeted, any American/any citizen of any nation who speaks out for HK can-and will be-too. We are all Hong Kongers now. pic.twitter.com/KQYGcStY1e
— Samuel Chu 朱牧民 (@samuelmchu) July 31, 2020
Chu has lived in the U.S. since 1996, according to The Guardian. On his website, he describes himself as a first-generation Hong Kong immigrant and the son of Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, a co-founder of Hong Kong’s 2014 Umbrella Revolution who in 2019 received a suspended 16-month sentence for his participation in the movement.
The younger Chu is also the founding director of the Hong Kong Democracy Council — a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit focused on promoting human rights and universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
Other individuals targeted by the warrants include Nathan Law — a prominent Hong Kong democracy figure who now resides in London and tweeted that he would have to sever his family connections due to the arrest warrant — and Simon Cheng, a former staffer at the British consulate in Hong Kong who was granted asylum in the U.K. after he was detained and allegedly tortured for over two weeks during a visit to mainland China last August. All of the wanted activists, with the exception of Chu, are currently in Europe.
The Hong Kong national security law, instituted suddenly on June 30, supersedes the local laws of the semi-autonomous metropolis, criminalizes a wide variety of acts as subversive and has largely been interpreted as a means for Beijing to crack down on pro-independence protesters.
“We always knew that when the [Hong Kong] national security law went into effect there was a very troubling and illogical, irrational idea that [the Chinese government] were claiming jurisdiction over anyone who is not even a Hong Kong resident, who is anywhere in the world, doing anything that they deemed threatening,” Chu told The Guardian, referencing vague clauses in the law that grant Beijing the power to arrest anyone — even overseas residents who set foot in Hong Kong — if they engage in activities interpreted as going against the wishes of China’s central government.
The same day the arrest warrants were issued, Hong Kong’s local government announced it would postpone the city’s legislative elections in September by one year. The city’s leader, Carrie Lam, cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reasoning behind this move, but opposition critics have called it another attempt by mainland China to quell the pro-democracy movement.
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