Antony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State, strongly condemned Hong Kong authorities for offering bounties on five pro-democracy activists, including a US citizen, urging the international community to oppose what he termed “transnational repression.”
The bounties, amounting to one million Hong Kong dollars ($128,000) for information leading to the activists’ arrest, were criticized by Blinken as a disregard for international norms and human rights. In a statement on Friday, he asserted the US’s commitment to defending the rights and freedoms of individuals and called on the international community to join in condemning this act of “transnational repression.”
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron also condemned the move, describing it as a “threat to our democracy and fundamental human rights.”
Hong Kong authorities announced the rewards for information on activists Joey Siu, Simon Cheng, Frances Hui, Johnny Fok, and Tony Choi, all wanted under the national security law. The law claims jurisdiction globally and accuses them of incitement to secession, incitement to subversion, and foreign collusion.
The five activists have advocated for democracy and civil liberties in Hong Kong from abroad, responding to a crackdown on opposition in the city. Among them, Siu holds US citizenship, and Hui was granted asylum in the US in 2021, while Cheng, Fok, and Choi reside in the UK.
In April, Hong Kong authorities had announced bounties for the arrest of eight other overseas-based activists, including former lawmaker Ted Hui.
Amnesty International labeled the bounties as evidence that Hong Kong authorities are systematically dismantling human rights on a global scale.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs retaliated, accusing Western governments of revealing “malicious intentions in messing up Hong Kong.” Under Hong Kong’s national security law, around 300 people have been arrested, curtailing rights and freedoms that were meant to distinguish the city from the Chinese mainland. Notable figures include media tycoon Jimmy Lai, set to go on trial on charges of colluding with foreign forces.