The US may want to respond to the arrest of 53 democracy activists in Hong Kong with sanctions. “The US will not stand idly by when the people of Hong Kong suffer from communist oppression,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo said the US government would consider “sanctions and other restrictions” on all concerned. He demanded the “immediate release” of those arrested. Among them is activists and politicians as well as the US lawyer John Clancey. He works for a law firm in Hong Kong.
The police in the China-controlled Hong Kong Special Administrative Region had arrested 53 government opponents on Wednesday on the basis of the so-called security law. The accused were accused of “subversion”, it was said. The law passed by Beijing in June allows the authorities to crack down on any activity in Hong Kong that they believe threatens national security. It was decided by the Chinese government in response to the mass pro-democracy protests of 2019.
In addition to the USA, the United Nations called for the “immediate release” of those arrested. The UN was “very concerned” about the arrests, said spokeswoman Liz Throssel. They showed that the provisions on “subversion” served exactly “as feared” to arrest individuals for exercising their “legitimate rights” to participate in public political life. The new law is “imprecise” and facilitates “improper application”.
British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab described the arrests as a “serious attack” on the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong citizens.
Joshua Wong faces further punishment
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong authorities are continuing their campaign against activists who have already been convicted. As it became known on Thursday, the prominent detained activist Joshua Wong faces another sentence. According to the unanimous reports, he too had to answer for “subversion” under the “Security Act”. A provisional release of Wong on parole would be off the table, according to the AFP news agency.
Wong was sentenced to 13.5 months in prison in early December for organizing an unauthorized protest in 2019. Wong’s comrades-in-arms Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam were also sentenced to ten and seven months in prison. They were on trial over a protest rally outside Hong Kong Police Headquarters in June 2019.
China compares storming US Capitol to protests in Hong Kong
China, meanwhile, draws parallels between the storming of the US Capitol in Washington and earlier protests in Hong Kong. A spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the protests were even “more violent”, but there were still no deaths there. China wishes the USA peace, stability and security as soon as possible.
When it was handed over to China in 1997, the former British crown colony of Hong Kong had been granted special rights for 50 years, including freedom of expression and assembly. Western states see the so-called security law as a blatant violation of the agreements of the time.