China says UK offering ‘protection to fugitives’ after bounty put on Hong Kong

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China has accused the UK of giving protection to fugitives after its foreign secretary slammed Hong Kong’s decision to offer bounties for information leading to the capture of prominent democracy activists based overseas.

“British politicians have openly offered protection for fugitives,” a spokesperson for Beijing’s embassy in London said in a statement late Monday.

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“This is crude interference in Hong Kong’s rule of law and China’s internal affairs,” they continued. “China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firmly opposes this.”

Hong Kong police on Monday offered HK$1 million bounties for information leading to the capture of eight democracy activists based abroad and wanted for national security crimes.

All eight fled Hong Kong after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the financial hub in mid-2020 to quell dissent after huge, sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in 2019 were quashed.

In response to the accusations against the activists -- some of whom are based in the UK -- Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said London would “not tolerate any attempts by China to intimidate and silence individuals in the UK and overseas”.

But Beijing hit back, with its embassy of Monday calling for “the relevant British politicians to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and Hong Kong’s matters, and stop using these anti-China Hong Kong disruptors to jeopardize China’s sovereignty and security.”

“The people of China oppose foreign interference. Their resolve to protect their own interests is firm as a rock, and will not waver!” the spokesperson added.

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