Hong Kong’s government has said it will prosecute anyone who violates its arbitrary national security law, including foreign nationals outside its territory, after it recently brought charges against a Chinese-Canadian journalist who criticized the Communist Party. Chinese (CCP) in power.
On August 3, the Hong Kong Security Bureau announced charges against Victor Leung-mau Ho, former editor of the Canadian daily Sing Tao, for co-creating the Hong Kong Parliament Election Organizing Committee. , a Toronto-based organization aiming to elect an “exile” Hong Kong parliament.
Hong Kong’s Security Bureau said in a press release that Ho is “suspected of violating the offense of subversion” under Section 22 of the National Security Act, which criminalizes any a person engaging in activities, by force or “other illegal means,” for the “purpose of subverting the state power” of the Communist-led government.
“Based on Article 37 of the National Security Law, the police will spare no effort to prosecute cases according to law to bring the culprits to justice,” the Hong Kong Security Bureau said. in the press release.
Section 37 of the National Security Act states that the Act “applies to a person who is a permanent resident of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or an incorporated or unincorporated body, such as a company or organization established in the region if the person or body commits an offense against this law outside the region”.
These charges against Ho and two others could mark the first use of the section, the National Post reported.
“Acts and activities that endanger national security have very serious consequences, and therefore, measures must be taken to prevent and suppress such acts and activities, in order to ensure that individuals endangering national security will face to legal consequences,” Hong Kong Security Bureau spokesman Tommy Wu told the news agency in an email this week.
Wu gave an affirmative answer when asked if it would be possible for the Hong Kong government to use this law to prosecute citizens of another nation for an act that occurred in their country.
“It should also be emphasized that the NSL has extraterritorial effect,” Wu said. “Any person or entity that violates the NSL, regardless of background or place of residence, will be dealt with by the HKSAR Administrative Council of Hong Kong) in accordance with law.”
The comment responds to earlier concerns from international communities that the National Security Law, introduced in June 2020, will deal a fatal blow to Hong Kong’s democracy, while the law’s extrajudicial nature will further threaten dissidents outside the territory. Chinese.
Ho immigrated to Canada in 1997 and became a Canadian citizen in 2001. He worked as editor of the Vancouver edition of the Sing Tao Daily, the largest Chinese-language newspaper in Canada at the time.
Canada’s Sing Tao Daily was founded in 1978 as a paid daily, affiliated with the Hong Kong-based Sing Tao News Corporation. The publication that once criticized China’s communist regime began taking a pro-Beijing stance after the former British colony returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
In 2021, the US Department of Justice ordered Sing Tao’s US subsidiary to be registered as a foreign agent, joining Chinese state media CGTN and Xinhua in carrying this designation.
Ho criticized the publication’s transformation into “a mouthpiece for the CCP,” saying it abandoned professionalism and values as an independent media.
The retired editor, who lives in Richmond, British Columbia, also urged the Canadian government to pass laws to prevent the spread of CCP propaganda within Chinese-Canadian communities across the country.
In response to the accusations, Ho said the federal government and Canada’s political leaders must make it clear that foreign governments cannot use such tactics against Canadians.
“[Ottawa] should send a message to other governments that you cannot treat Canadian citizens like this, you cannot demonize Canadian citizens for activities that are completely acceptable in a democratic society,” he told the National. Post.
Asked about Ho’s case, Global Affairs Canada told the National Post in a statement that Ottawa was concerned about the “rapid deterioration” of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong and had responded with various actions, including the suspension of a treaty. extradition, imposing export control measures and launching new immigration pathways for Hong Kongers to come to Canada.
“We are very concerned about the application of the national security law against any Canadian,” the statement issued on August 31 said.