Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said the Hong Kong government cannot guarantee that pro-democracy activists will not be arrested under China’s new security law if they enter the mainland, noting that it is not for officials of the special administrative region to make such a pledge, Ming Pao Daily reported on Monday.
Yuen was responding to reporters’ questions about Labor Party leader Lee Cheuk-yan, who sought clarification from the Hong Kong government about the national security law and said he plans to cross the border to test the waters.
The justice minister made the remarks in Beijing on Sunday after Sing Tao Daily quoted a Chinese government source as saying that those calling for an end to one-party rule in China could probably be prosecuted under the security law recently passed by the National People’s Congress once they enter the mainland.
That could include Lee, former chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China — the group that has been organizing the annual June 4 vigil marking the Tiananmen Square crackdown — and the group’s incumbent chairman, Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan, the report said.
Yuen said he respects Lee’s decision to enter the mainland, adding that in case he is arrested, the Hong Kong government will follow up his case according to pre-established procedures.
Asked if he could guarantee that members of pro-democracy student groups, such as Scholarism and the Hong Kong Federation of Students, would not be prosecuted in the mainland for their activities in Hong Kong based on the new security law, Yuen also said he could not promise anything without substantial basis.
The new law does not target Hong Kong and will not apply in Hong Kong, Yuen said, nor will it be added as an annex to the Basic Law to enable its implementation in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong residents will face no additional criminal liabilities under the new law, given that it will not be enforced in the territory, he added.
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