Pro-democracy activists exiled from Hong Kong will never be silenced despite attempts by the Chinese Communist Party to use transnational repression against them, an urgent press briefing held at the UK House of Commons on Wednesday heard.
This is despite what some are calling a “Chinese fatwa” which has seen the Hong Kong Police Force issue arrest warrants againt eight activists, including Christopher Mung, Finn Lau and Nathaw Law in the UK, and others in the US, Canada and Australia. The authorities have also offered rewards of up to one million Hong Kong dollars for information leading to their capture.
Mung and Lau both spoke at the briefing, which was chaired by Bob Seely MP.
Mung stressed the repercussions of the long reach from the authorities, but vowed he will never be silenced.
He said: “The Chinese and Hong Kong governments are extending their hands abroad, suppressing freedom of speech and silencing activists with a chilling effect.
“But they will never eliminate my voice, or the voice of Hongkongers. For the rest of my life, us Hongkongers will fight together.”
Lau said it wasn’t the first time the CCP had tried to exert transnational repression of speech in the UK, citing the harassment of protestors outside the Chinese consulate in Manchester by staff in 2022.
He also issued a set of demands to the British government in response to the warrants. These included an urgent meeting with both the British foreign and home secretaries, as well as calling for legal action against anybody in the UK who passes on information about the activists for reward.
“We simply need concrete action and measures to tackle this,” he said.
Mark Clifford, president of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, went as far to call the warrants and bounties a Chinese “fatwa”.
He said: “The CCP and their enablers in Hong Kong have crossed a red line here. What they’re saying is democracy is illegal around the world under their National Security Law.
“We need actions because China will keep pushing, and pushing, and pushing.”
When asked why the warrants and bounties were issued now, Lau said that any guess is just speculation.
He continued: “Personally, I think it’s just simply a way of discouraging Hongkongers from fighting for their democracy and speech in the future.”
Benedict Rogers, chief executive of Hong Kong Watch, which monitors freedoms and human rights in Hong Kong, recounted attempts by the CCP to repress his own freedom of speech, while acknowledging these have been less severe than those now faced by the eight activists.
“About a year ago I received a letter from the Hong Kong police informing me that what I do with Hong Kong Watch in the UK violates the National Security Law in Hong Kong, and I could face a prison sentence there,” he said.
“I’ve also received anonymous threatening letters from Hong Kong, some even posted to my mother.”
Finishing off the session, Mark Clifford said that the battle with the CCP’s repression will be a long-term struggle, and to ensure talk of damaging trade relations doesn’t affect it.
“It’s an evil, evil country; and we must remember our values are just more important than economic commerce.”
Read our statement on the arrest warrants and rewards.