‘If not surrender, they can only worry about being arrested every day, living in fear,’ HKSAR chief on arrest warrants for 8 fugitives
Published: Jul 04, 2023 01:27 PM


Endangering national security is a serious offence. Law enforcement must be strict and, regardless of where in the world these individuals go, all legal means will be used in a lifelong pursuit, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Tuesday, expressing full support for the latest arrest warrants issued for eight anti-China rioters who absconded abroad. 

The HKPF's national security department said on Monday that the local court approved the issuance of arrest warrants for eight fugitives including Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Ted Hui Chi-fung and Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, who have fled overseas and allegedly contravened the National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong. 

The police in HKSAR are offering HK$1 million ($127,627) in rewards for each of the wanted person, which is valid until July 2, 2024. It also called on the eight fugitives to return to the HKSAR and turn themselves in, in exchange for reduced sentences.

The issuance of arrest warrants is a fulfillment of responsibility and a safeguard of national security, which Lee fully supports and endorses, according to a press conference on Tuesday. 

Anyone can assist the police and the matter will be assured of confidentiality, and even relatives and friends can qualify to report and claim the reward, Lee said. 

“The only way to avoid being wanted is to surrender, and surrendering can lead to a reduced sentence, otherwise, they can only worry about being arrested every day, living in fear,” the Chief Executive said. 

The rewards are the first for suspects accused of violating the NSL for Hong Kong since it took effect in June 2020, according to media reports. Some legal experts said it’s fully legitimate and signals a significant step in enhancing the rule of law in foreign affairs. 

“It demonstrates China's increasing emphasis on safeguarding national sovereignty and security through legal means. At the same time, the application of the NSL for Hong Kong to issue warrants for Hong Kong residents abroad is based on territorial jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction, in compliance with international law,” Huo Zhengxin, a law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The extraterritorial application of domestic law is an important part of the rule of law in foreign-related affairs, and exterritorial application of domestic law is the concrete embodiment of protective jurisdiction and universal jurisdiction recognized by international law, and is a supplement to personal jurisdiction and territorial jurisdiction, Chinese experts said when China's top legislature passed the Foreign Relations Law on June 28.

Offering a reward reflected the high importance police attached to this manhunt, which is also the method used in arresting suspects involved in serious crimes, and has been used in the past for suspects involved in murder or armed robbery cases, Lee said. 

Authorities will do their utmost to hunt down those who violate the NSL for Hong Kong, and as for how the police will execute any arrest, it will depend on the actual circumstances and different forms of cooperation with different regions will be employed, Lee said, noting that he believes there will be room for lifetime pursuit and there's no escape.

In response to some observers who argued that it may be difficult to arrest those eight fugitives as they are not in Hong Kong and the UN has provisions stating that suspects with political backgrounds cannot be extradited, Lee said issuing the warrant is also a strong message to let people know that the Hong Kong government will not be idle on the matter. 

In response to the criticism of the US and UK politicians over the arrest warrants, the Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong and the Chinese Embassy in the UK expressed strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition. 

The Hong Kong police, based on facts and guided by law, are rightfully enforcing the law against the chief culprits of the anti-China and Hong Kong chaos overseas through "protective jurisdiction" provisions, which is in line with international law and common international practice, the Commissioner’s Office said on Tuesday. 

Some UK politicians including British foreign minister James Cleverly are blatantly harboring fugitives, which is a flagrant interference in Hong Kong's rule of law and China's internal affairs, the Chinese embassy said, noting “We urge the UK side not to continue exploiting these anti-China and Hong Kong destabilizing elements to harm China's sovereignty and security.”

The NSL for Hong Kong shall apply to offences which are committed in the HKSAR by any person, and to offences under the law from the outside of the city by a person who is not a permanent resident of the city, according to the law.