RICHMOND, BC — On the whole, being wanted isn’t so bad, says Victor Ho.
Sitting at a picnic table in a park in Vancouver’s Richmond suburb, Ho, a retired Chinese newspaper editor, said the Hong Kong Security Bureau was putting him on a list of wanted for his role in a new push for democracy in the region. bothers him a lot.
It actually brought attention to his cause.
“We are very grateful to government officials, especially the Hong Kong police,” said Ho, the former editor of Sing Tao Daily Vancouver. “They’re doing the right thing, delivering the news Hong Kongers around the world should know.”
Civil rights in Hong Kong have been rapidly eroded in recent years at the hands of a Beijing-backed local government implementing the will of the Chinese Communist Party.
In Toronto last month, Ho and other exiled Hong Kong citizens announced the establishment of a Hong Kong Parliament Election Organizing Committee.
The committee plans to form an international parliament for the city, in which citizens living in Hong Kong or around the world could vote for representatives in a free election.
Parliament, according to the group, would then have the moral authority to speak on behalf of all Hong Kongers despite the region’s lack of legal status.
Now Ho is wanted under the national security law, imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing in response to pro-democracy protests in 2019, for subversion.
A press release from the Hong Kong Security Bureau names him and two others, Elmer Yuen and former regional lawmaker Baggio Leung, both living in Washington, D.C., as wanted for subverting government power. State under the National Security Act.
“According to Article 37 of Hong Kong’s National Security Law, the police will definitely pursue these people and arrest them,” read a translated part of the statement.
The law considers anyone in the world accused of endangering China’s national security to be fair game for Chinese authorities and has been fiercely opposed by city residents, especially young people.
International observers have warned that the law will be used to trample on rights and try to suppress criticism of the Chinese and Hong Kong governments around the world. On the first day the law took effect in 2020, 370 people were arrested.
Ho, a Canadian citizen who moved to the country 25 years ago from Hong Kong, said he learned he was a wanted man in the media and received him with mixed emotion.
It will cause inconvenience to family members, he said, but the move has drawn more attention to parliament than organizers were able to garner initially.
“It’s a bit embarrassing for my family members to return to Hong Kong,” he said.
Still, he said he was waiting for the designation sought.
Charles Burton, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s China expert, said given the crimes Ho is accused of, Ottawa must speak out against the National Security Act and “the imposition of false charges.” against a Canadian.
Ho likely would not have been extradited under the treaty Canada suspended with Hong Kong, Burton said, but Ottawa has yet to issue a statement supporting him.
“In general, these statements appear to be made primarily about non-Chinese people, but I think it’s important that we respect the integrity of Mr. Ho’s citizenship by not letting this go unnoticed,” Burton said. .
Late Friday, the Star sent a request for comment to Global Affairs Canada and was told the department would try to formulate a response in a timely manner.
Among the many pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, another Canadian citizen, pop star Denise Ho, was arrested in May after a brief arrest and detention late last year.
His arrest was linked to his role in a fund providing legal aid to pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Denise and Victor are not related.
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Retired Vancouver newspaper editor thanks Hong Kong authorities for declaring him a wanted man