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Hong Kong Activist Subject to Arrest Bounty Calls on Britain to Stand Up to China


Finn Lau, a political activist from Hong Kong poses for a photo at the UK - Hong Kong Summit in London, March 27, 2023.
Finn Lau, a political activist from Hong Kong poses for a photo at the UK - Hong Kong Summit in London, March 27, 2023.

Even on the streets of London, Finn Lau does not feel safe from the reach of the Chinese Communist Party.

He is among the exiled pro-democracy activists facing arrest warrants issued by Hong Kong authorities last week, with a reward of 1 million Hong Kong dollars ($128,000) offered for information that helps lead to their detention.

Since then, Lau said he has seen several menacing online messages from pro-Chinese groups.

“I got some screenshots coming from some Telegram groups, saying that ‘perhaps we should lure them with some kind of tactics, such that we could catch them or kill them,” he said.

Lau helped to organize the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

“I proposed different kinds of strategies, hosted different rallies and even did advocacy abroad,” Lau told VOA, “So that’s why they are accusing me of so-called collusion with foreign forces.”

Lau was arrested on January 1, 2020, but Hong Kong police failed to identify him as a ringleader, and he was released.

Soon after that he fled to Britain. China has since issued several arrest warrants for him but earlier this month was the first time Hong Kong authorities explicitly offered a bounty for his arrest.

“The head of the Hong Kong government, he said they will chase us until the end of the world,” Lau said.

“To be honest I feel less safe in the U.K.. After all I faced different kinds of harassment, no matter whether it is virtual online harassment or physical harassment, for the last few years. I was attacked near my home in 2020.”

That attack in London left Lau with severe injuries. He described the attackers as of East Asian origin and said he believes they were directed by the Chinese government, though Beijing denies involvement. British police have failed to identify the attackers.

Lau is demanding that British authorities take the latest threats more seriously.

“I request for assurance from the U.K. government that if there is anyone attempting to kidnap or to detain me under the so-called Hong Kong National Security Law, then they should be tried and charged under U.K. law for kidnapping.”

“I have tried to contact the [British] Home Office as well as the police, several times. But there is no response at all,” he told VOA.

Lau said he believes Britain is reluctant to take a harder line as it does not want to jeopardize trade links with China.

“The U.K. government is one of the democratic countries that should hold China accountable, especially for what the Chinese Communist Party has been doing in Hong Kong. The U.K. government has signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration with the PRC back in 1984, which guaranteed – in theory – at least 50 years of autonomy, rule of law, civil liberties etc., to Hong Kongers after the 1997 Hong Kong handover,” Lau added.

The British government did not respond directly to VOA requests for comment.

Foreign Office ministers have recently condemned the bounties offered for the arrest of the Hong Kong activists. They said it is a long-standing policy not to comment on operational matters regarding their protection in Britain.

Despite the reward for his arrest, Lau said he is not deterred.

“I should continue to fight on behalf of other Hong Kongers who cannot do so in Hong Kong. I’ve got friends sitting in the prison of Hong Kong. So that’s why I must continue to fight.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong police this week called several family members of Nathan Law in for questioning. Law is another pro-democracy activist and former lawmaker living in London, also subject to an arrest warrant and bounty. They were released without charge.