UK highlights security risk for travelers

The British government has updated its travel advice on Hong Kong, saying the national security law applies to activities inside and outside the SAR and so it could include activities in the United Kingdom.

It also warned that authorities in Hong Kong could detain and try people accused of committing a national security offense, with the risk of being extradited to the mainland.

With the national security law kicking in on June 30 last year in Hong Kong, the UK government said there was a risk of heightened tensions in the SAR despite it being a generally stable place.

It also said authorities had the power to prevent people from leaving the SAR, citing an Immigration Ordinance amendment that took effect on August 1.

“The Hong Kong government has given undertakings that such powers will not be used and that the ability to remove people from flights will be applied only to stop certain asylum seekers from entering Hong Kong,” the advisory said.

It also reminded people traveling to Hong Kong that protests – including violent ones – could occur despite them being less frequent amid the pandemic.

“Protests in 2019 saw the use of petrol bombs and Molotov cocktails,” the warning continued.

“Unauthorized protests in early 2020 were met by a more rapid and severe police response, including heavy use of tear gas, bean bag rounds, ‘sponge grenades’ and rubber bullets.”

British visitors around protest-battered areas are also advised to stay vigilant, follow the advice of authorities and move away quickly to a safe place.

It called on them to regularly check live updates of MTR services as some stations had been shut down amid protests.

New People’s Party chairwoman and former secretary for security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee noted that the updated travel advice targeted Hongkongers who had moved to Britain.

“Countless Hongkongers who have moved overseas, regardless if it is the UK or the US, have advocated Hong Kong independence or overthrowing Beijing and the SAR government,” she said.

“I think the British government wants to remind Hongkongers who have naturalized as British citizens or Hong Kong independence supporters residing in the UK not to violate the national security law or else they will be detained or questioned upon their arrival in Hong Kong.”

She noted too that Hong Kong has terminated its agreement with Britain on the surrender of fugitive offenders, so the agreement could not be covered under the national security law.

“Hong Kong cannot seek help from the UK on tracking fugitives – only from the International Criminal Police Organization,” she said.

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