Hong Kong Faces Backlash For Issuing International Arrest Warrants

U.S. officials warned Americans not to visit China, advising that they could be arbitrarily and wrongfully detained by authorities.

Now, officials in Hong Kong are receiving direct backlash for their alleged attempts to arrest individuals living abroad who have spoken out in support of that region’s independence from China.

Specifically, eight activists — living in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States — were reportedly cited in recent arrest warrants issued in Hong Kong.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese provided a stern denunciation of the move in defense of Kevin Yam and Ted Hui, an Australian citizen and permanent resident, respectively.

“I am of course disappointed,” he said. “I’ve said we’ll cooperate with China where we can. But we will disagree where we must. And we do disagree with China with these actions.”

The prime minister further expressed outrage over the arrest of Australian journalist Cheng Lei, who has been detained “without proper process” since a trial more than a year ago.

“We continue to advocate for the interests of Australia,” Albanese said. “We´ll continue to do so. We will disagree where we must. We will engage in our national interest. And this decision overnight is an example of where Australia and China do have different approaches to these issues. And we´ll stand up for our values.”

Officials in both the U.S. and U.K. have issued their own statements condemning the Hong Kong warrants.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State insisted that the action sets “a dangerous precedent that threatens the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people all over the world.”

According to British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, his nation “will not tolerate any attempts by China to intimidate and silence individuals in the U.K. and overseas.”

For his part, however, Hong Kong leader John Lee defended the move by comparing it to the authority other nations impose outside of their borders. He insisted that his administration will not be deterred by the protests of foreign officials.

Of course, Hong Kong has officially admitted that the eight individuals cited in the arrest warrants cannot be arrested as long as they are living outside of China.