The interception of a handful of Hong Kong individuals who were attempting to flee to the island of Taiwan shows the National Security Law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is exerting its intended deterrent effect.
It should also serve as a stern warning to those who may still think they can break the law and escape justice.
After the national security law came into effect in the SAR, the Taiwan authorities openly encouraged lawbreakers in Hong Kong to evade the consequences of their actions by seeking shelter on the island. Due to such overt and covert support, some opposition activists have deemed Taiwan to be a bolt-hole from the law.
However, on Wednesday, the Guangdong coast guard authorities announced that they had detained a dozen people from Hong Kong who were trying to reach Taiwan by speedboat on Aug 23. According to Hong Kong media reports, among the several activists on board was Andy Li Yu-hin, who is under investigation for suspected collusion with hostile foreign forces. He was released on bail after being arrested earlier this month. At least one of the others on board was reportedly also out on bail after being arrested for participating in the rioting that plagued Hong Kong before the SAR promulgated the national security law.
According to media reports, five individuals Hong Kong were also in a boat that was heading to the island that was intercepted by the Taiwan coast guard at the end of July. Among them was Man Ka-kin, who had skipped a court appearance over a rioting charge involving the storming of the Legislative Council in July 2019.
The island’s “mainland affairs council” has refused to either confirm or deny the report, which is a clear indication that the five Hong Kong activists whom Taiwan was reportedly sheltering have become a political hot potato.
The authorities on the island know they have a well-recognized obligation to fight cross-boundary crimes and prevent fugitives from escaping justice. The “mainland affairs council” has explicitly said that those who come to Taiwan via illegal means will face criminal charges.
Clearly, Hong Kong lawbreakers should give up the illusion of evading justice by seeking shelter on the island or elsewhere, as the central authorities are determined to implement the national security law to the letter and bring all who violate it to justice.