12 arrested HK residents are 'separatists'
The 12 Hong Kong people arrested at sea by mainland authorities last month were separatists, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry said in response to her US counterpart’s characterisation of the arrest.
They were intercepted by the Guangdong coast guard on August 23 on a boat bound for Taiwan.
The Shenzhen City police, in its first notice since the arrest, on Sunday said the 12 Hong Kong citizens were under criminal detention on suspicion of illegally crossing the border. The investigation is ongoing, it said.
“Police will protect the legitimate rights and interests of criminal suspects in accordance with law,” the police said.
US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus tweeted on Saturday that their arrest was “another example of the deterioration of human rights in Hong Kong.”
China’s Hua Chunying responded in another tweet. “Seriously?! Fact check: The 12 people were arrested for illegally crossing the border in waters. They are not democratic activists, but elements attempting to separate #HongKong from China,” she wrote.
The arrests came about two months after a national security law took effect in Hong Kong. The city’s Immigration Department said staff were assisting in the case and were in regular contact with the families of the arrested.