UK accused of harbouring Hong Kong 'fugitives' by China

Exiled Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law.
Exiled Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law. Copyright SAM YEH / AFP
By Euronews with AFP
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
Copy/paste the article video embed link below:Copy to clipboardCopied

Hong Kong's leader warned pro-democracy activists will be 'pursued for life' on Tuesday.


China has condemned the United Kingdom (UK) for "protecting" eight Hong Kong pro-democracy activists in exile.

"British politicians have openly offered protection to fugitives", a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in the UK said on Tuesday, accusing London of "interference" in China's internal affairs.

Hong Kong's leader called earlier today for eight exiled pro-democracy activists wanted by the police to surrender or "live in fear".

Relations between China and the UK, which handed Hong Kong back to Beijing in 1997, have been strained since pro-democracy demonstrations broke out in 2019. 

London offered a special visa for Hongkongers in the wake of the protests, with more than 100,000 emigrating to the UK so far. 

Police in Hong Kong have promised a reward of €117,000 for information leading to the arrest of the activists.

They are charged with colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security, offences punishable by life imprisonment.

"The only way to put an end to their fate as fugitives, who will be hunted down for the rest of their lives, is to surrender", Hong Kong's leader John Lee said.

If not, they will live "in fear", he assured journalists.

Mr Lee also called on the public to help the police, adding that even "relatives and friends" of the militants could provide information.

This measure has been denounced by the United States (US), the UK and Australia, countries where some of the wanted activists reside.

"I am not afraid of political pressure on us, because we are doing what we think is right", insisted the Hong Kong leader.

Among those targeted is Nathan Law, one of the leading figures in the pro-democracy movement, who fled Hong Kong for the UK where he was granted political asylum.

"We will not tolerate China's attempts to intimidate and silence individuals in the UK and abroad," UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.

"The UK will always defend the universal right to freedom of expression and stand up for those who are targeted," he added.

China condemned these remarks on Tuesday.

"British politicians are openly offering protection to fugitives", condemned a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in the UK.

The US also objected to the bounty promised by the Hong Kong authorities.


Washing and London have suspended their extradition agreements with Hong Kong, since the pro-democracy protests of 2020.

Unrest was sparked by Beijing's imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong, which established crimes of secession, subversion and collusion with foreign organisations, plus criminalised promoting secession from China. 

Two hundred and sixty people have been arrested and more than 160 others and five companies have been charged under the law to date. 

Critics claim the law rolled back freedoms in Hong Kong and drove into exile people linked to the protests that shook the metropolis from June to December 2019.

They say it undermined the greater freedoms Hong Kong enjoyed within China under the "one country, two systems" policy. 


Beijing has claimed the law was necessary to promote national security.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

Thousands of Hong Kong citizens sing "Glory to Hong Kong" in huge show of solidarity

China used data from TikTok to track Hong Kong protesters, says former ByteDance executive

Hong Kong journalist acquitted of criminal charges in rare victory for media freedom