The NSL’s extraterritorial reach: Hong Kong police harass families of overseas Hong Kongers

After attaining “comprehensive control” over Hong Kong, the Chinese Communist Party (“CCP”) is increasing its efforts to crack down on Hong Kongers in the diaspora. The NSL purports to have extraterritorial application, criminalizing acts committed outside of the Hong Kong territory (even by non-nationals). This flies in the face of basic international law principles regarding state jurisdiction, and creates a reign of terror characterised by self-censorship.

The activist group Hongkongers in Britain said that it has heard at least 10 cases of “long arm policing”. This can take two forms: dissidents who return to Hong Kong being called to police stations to be questioned (including about their attendance at protests abroad); and Hong Kong-based family members of overseas dissidents being harassed by the police. This marks a disturbing change in the mode of law enforcement in Hong Kong: it is departing from legal procedures and moving towards shadow methods of policing seen in the PRC. One victim was Glacier Kwong Chung-ching, Hong Kong activist and staff member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, who is now based in the UK. Chung was never charged with any offence while she was in Hong Kong and has never been announced to be a wanted person. Yet the Hong Kong police are now threatening her family because of her work overseas. This forms part of a pattern of repression by the CCP. In October 2022, staff from the PRC consulate in Manchester beat up a Hong Kong protestor outside consulate grounds. Dissidents from Uyghurs and Tibetans to Tiananmen activists located in Europe and the US have also been targeted. Freedom House concludes that China “conducts the world’s most sophisticated, comprehensive, and far-reaching campaign of transnational repression”. This is a threat not only to the freedoms of diasporic activists, but also to other countries’ sovereignty and national security.

(This article originally appeared as an item in the Jan-Feb 2023 edition of our newsletter.)

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