Prosecution of illegal border crossing suspects in Shenzhen a ‘decisive warning shot’ to Hong Kong secessionists
Published: Dec 16, 2020 08:30 PM

Photo taken on Aug. 5, 2019 shows China's national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on the Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong, south China. Photo: Xinhua

Twelve Hong Kong residents who had been detained in August for illegally entering into the mainland waters since they wanted to escape to the island of Taiwan to avoid being charged for their acts during the 2019 turmoil in Hong Kong, were formally charged by Shenzhen Yantian People’s Procuratorate on Wednesday. 

Shenzhen procuratorate on Wednesday initiated public prosecution of two Hong Kong residents for organizing illegal border crossing, and eight others who illegally crossed the border. The hearing of another two underage persons will not be made public, and decision will be made according to the law, said the procuratorate on Wednesday.

Their cases, which have been hyped by anti-government forces in Hong Kong and Western politicians questioning the legitimacy of law enforcement, sent out a decisive warning shot to all Hong Kong secessionists who still hold illusions of escaping from justice with the help of external forces, experts said. 

After the Shenzhen procuratorate initiated prosecution, mainland jurisdiction organs will determine sentences for those people according to the trial, said Tian Feilong, a Hong Kong affairs expert at Beihang University in Beijing. 

According to Chinese mainland laws, those who organize people to illegally cross the border will be subject to sentences of between two and seven years. An individual illegal border crossing conviction will result in a sentence under two years.

Tian believed that although the case occurred after the national security law was enacted, it is not a case that breaches national security law.

It is a “very simple” criminal case, but since it happened within the jurisdiction of the Chinese mainland, mainland jurisdiction organs are responsible for initiating prosecution and the trial, in accordance with the law. 

In August, Chinese mainland coast guards arrested 12 people suspected of illegally crossing the border in waters under mainland jurisdiction in South China's Guangdong Province. One of the suspects, Andy Li Yu-hin, had been arrested for breaching the national security law for Hong Kong. 

Hong Kong police said that according to information provided by the Guangdong police and records from the marine department's traffic surveillance system and the marine police digital radar system, a speedboat suspected of smuggling goods left Pu Toi O in Sai Kung, New Territories of Hong Kong, at about 7 am on August 23 and entered mainland waters at about 7:30 am, about 26 nautical miles southeast of Hong Kong waters.

Mainland experts have repeatedly slammed such illegal acts, and some likened the Hong Kong secessionists fleeing to Taiwan to "a drowning man who will grasp at any straw.”

An investigation revealed that the 12 suspects had boarded the speedboat as arranged by a smuggling group at Pu Toi O. One of the suspects had planned to escape to Taiwan via mainland waters in order to escape prosecution in Hong Kong.

Some Western politicians including anti-China hawks like US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, secessionist forces in the island of Taiwan and other places have been hyping the arrest, claiming that the 12 “had committed no crime.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a tweet earlier that the 12 arrested for illegally crossing the border "are not democratic activists, but elements attempting to separate Hong Kong from China."

The charges against the 12 Hong Kong suspects won’t lead to a lot of repercussions, as from the disqualification of some opposition lawmakers to mass resignations of the Hong Kong opposition camp, no matter how hard Western politicians attack Hong Kong, Hong Kong society appears to have little interest in echoing them, Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Monday. 

“Because Hong Kong people are returning to a rational and practical mindset. After yearlong social turmoil and the coronavirus epidemic, more Hong Kong people understand what the true crisis is. To get through this crisis, we need a stable political situation,” Lau said, noting that it requires strong leadership to tackle the pandemic, economy and job market. 

Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the Standing Committee of the NPC, considered the prosecution as the thing that falls into place. “In any place in the world, suspects who violate the law won’t escape from justice.”

If the Western-led public opinion and some politicians in foreign countries have doubts about that and criticize it, it’s typical double standards, Tam said. “Will they tolerate those who violate the law?”

Many Hong Kong people have a new understanding of what the opposition camp has done, as they have brought nothing but rampage, so that the political atmosphere in the city has been evolving toward the moderate and practical, the senior expert said.

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