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HK leader calls Agnes Chow 'shameless' for jumping bail

By Shamim Ashraf and Hu Yuyan in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-06 09:49
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Photo taken on July 14, 2020 shows the Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong, July 14, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region John Lee Ka-chiu on Tuesday called activist-turned-fugitive Agnes Chow Ting shameless for deceiving the city's police after deciding to jump bail and leave the city to study in Canada.

"Now that she has said she plans to jump bail and abscond from Hong Kong, police will do their utmost to pursue her, to arrest her. Fugitives will be pursued for life unless they turn themselves in," Lee said.

During a media briefing on Tuesday, he vowed every effort to bring fugitive offenders involved in endangering national security to justice.

Chow was arrested on suspicion of colluding with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.

Now studying for a master's degree in Canada, she is required to report to the Hong Kong police in December as part of a national security investigation. On Sunday night, she announced via her Instagram account that she had decided not to report to the police this month and would probably never return to her hometown.

The Hong Kong leader said some people in Hong Kong still underestimate national security threats posed by foreign forces.

"Those who committed the crime of collusion have become foreign agents. They have betrayed the trust of the Hong Kong people. They have betrayed the interests of Hong Kong."

Stressing that the people of Hong Kong must not ignore the interference of foreign forces in the SAR, he said: "They do it for their own political interests. They have not stopped."

Residents must not forget the suffering Hong Kong endured when the city was hit by riots in 2019, Lee said. "Hong Kong must not forget the pain that we all had, despite the fact that the wounds of the 2019 riots and violence have somehow healed, but the pain should remain in our memory."

He emphasized that the legislative exercise for Article 23 of the Basic Law must proceed with full strength.

"The legislative exercise will be completed next year to ensure that Article 23 legislation, that we then enact, together with the National Security Law, will form a solid national security legal system to improve the overall legal enforcement mechanism to safeguard national security," said the chief executive.

Chow was arrested by the police's National Security Department on Aug 10, 2020, for suspected collusion with external forces and was subsequently sentenced to imprisonment for other offenses, serving a term from late 2020 to mid-2021.

Following her release on bail, the NSD imposed restrictions on her departure from Hong Kong under Schedule 2 of Article 43 of the National Security Law for Hong Kong. Chow had reported to the police as required, according to the police.

After she expressed her intention to study abroad and submitted university admission documents as evidence to authorities, police returned her travel documents and extended her bail until this month. Chow landed in Canada in September.

Calling Chow shameless, Lee said that she betrayed their trust, made excuses to garner sympathy and attempted to glorify herself. The Hong Kong police's goodwill of leniency was met with deception, said Lee, who also promised that the police would review the lesson and ensure that national security and the rule of law are upheld.

On Monday, the central and local authorities also denounced Chow's irresponsible behavior of openly defying the rule of law.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that China is a country governed by the rule of law, and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is a society governed by the rule of law.

He added that the rights enjoyed by Hong Kong residents are fully protected by the law. Nobody has the privilege of being exempt from the law, and any illegal activity will be subject to punishment.

In a separate statement, the NSD said Chow's intention to jump bail is a challenge to the rule of law. Police urged her to do the right thing before it is too late, warning that she would otherwise bear the consequences of being a fugitive for the rest of her life.

In a strongly worded statement issued on Monday, the Hong Kong SAR government condemned Chow's "shameful acts" of avoiding legal responsibilities. Local authorities will spare no effort in bringing her to justice in accordance with the law, it said.

Curtis Lo contributed to this story.

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