A rioter sets fire and destroys public facilities outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in south China's Hong Kong, Nov. 17, 2019. Photo:Xinhua
Chinese mainland maritime police arrested more than 10 people suspected of illegally crossing the border in waters under mainland jurisdiction, among whom Hong Kong media reported was an anti-government rioter who violated the national security law for Hong Kong and was released on bail pending investigation.
Mainland analysts said the case could provide an example for the mainland and Hong Kong to coordinate judicially after the enactment of the national security law for Hong Kong. In addition, they noted that it's a showcase of joint law enforcement between the mainland and Hong Kong to crack down on illegal immigration and other crimes such as smuggling and human trafficking.
Mainland maritime police announced on Sina Weibo social media platform on Wednesday evening that Guangdong provincial maritime police seized a speedboat suspected of illegally crossing the border in waters under mainland jurisdiction, and detained more than 10 suspects including one surnamed Lee and another surnamed Tang. The case is under investigation, said the announcement.
Hong Kong media reported that the boat held 12 young Hong Kong residents who tried to escape to the island of Taiwan to seek "political asylum" and Lee is a member of the anti-government group "Hong Kong Story." He was arrested on August 10, the same day as Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, founder of Apple Daily, was arrested.
Hong Kong media said Lee was arrested by local police on charges of colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security and violating the recently enacted national security law for Hong Kong. He was also allegedly involved in money laundering, said media.
Lee was released on bail but was required to report to the police in early September.
Other people on the boat detained by the Guangdong police were reportedly rioters who participated in the anti-extradition bill protests in 2019.
Hong Kong Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung said at a press conference on Thursday afternoon that the Hong Kong police had not been informed of the incident by the mainland police.
Tang said that the mainland would deal with the case in accordance with the relevant laws. If the persons concerned are wanted in Hong Kong, they will discuss how to return the individuals to Hong Kong, Tang said, noting that the police have paid close attention to issues regarding people smuggling.
According to Chinese mainland law, the stowaways can be sentenced to a fixed-term imprisonment of one year and shall be fined; after this, they can freely return to Hong Kong.
Wu Yingpeng, a lawyer and barrister-at-law in Hong Kong told the Global Times on Thursday that due to the "one country, two systems," the national criminal law is not implemented in Hong Kong. However, when an offender in Hong Kong endangering national security enters the mainland, the mainland law enforcement authorities also have jurisdiction. The authorities can handle the case in accordance with the existing charges of endangering national security in accordance with the national criminal law, Wu noted.
Li Xiaobing, an expert on Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, from Nankai University in Tianjin, told the Global Times that whether the mainland or Hong Kong law enforcement authorities would address the case accusing the people detained at the speedboat of offenses including violating national security requires negotiation from both sides. And the case could provide an opportunity and example for the mainland and Hong Kong to cooperate on judicial coordination after the enactment of the national security law, Li noted.
Some Hong Kong media reported that there had been an increase in the number of people smuggling to the mainland by sea recently, some of whom fled from novel coronavirus testing. Certain others are suspected of participating in the illegal and violent protests last year, sneaking into the mainland under false identities and then trying to escape to Taiwan seeking "political asylum."