According to a draft prepared on Friday, June 19, on the new national security laws expected to come into force in Hong Kong, not only could pro-democracy movements face extradition and trial in mainland China, but now it could also include pastors and religious leaders.
“Under such laws, vocal Hong Kong clergy who have been supportive of Hong Kong’s democracy movement, such as Cardinal Joseph Zen and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, could be extradited to mainland China to be tried, since Beijing considers them to be threats to the regime,” the religious organization, International Christian Concern (ICC), said in a statement.
The report detailed that hundreds of Protestant leaders and Christian organizations that have been active against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Hong Kong would similarly be susceptible to the fate of those who have encouraged pro-democracy protests in the semi-autonomous region.
The Chinese Communist Party condemns the massive protests that began in June 2019 as terrorist acts, as well as any movement that seeks Hong Kong’s independence or encourages acts of sedition.
According to the Hong Kong Free Press, the CCP has already invested efforts to control the media in Hong Kong in order to question and vilify the churches that remained open to provide a space for prayer, rest, and relief to the protesters.
At the same time, several agents sent from mainland China have warned the churches to refrain from participating in the protests, threatening the fate of their compatriots who were arrested and taken to mainland China. In turn, efforts are aimed at influencing religious leaders to unite in support of the implementation of the security law.
The majority of Christian congregations are pro-democracy, thus posing a threat to mainland China’s efforts to promote pro-establishment sentiment.
Alan Keung, a 28-year-old pastor who served as a doctor at a protest that turned violent and also had “pastor” inscribed on his helmet, offered prayer and care to both injured protesters and police.
“I am not someone who merely stays in the church and talks about humanity, justice, and morality, and ignores what’s going on at the front line,” he told Reuters in November last year. “This is not what I want to do. I want to show my companionship at the front line and to be in the crowd when I’m needed,” he added.
As Fox News pointed out, the CCP is trying to enforce Article 23 of the Basic Law, which urges Hong Kong to enact laws of its own aimed at prohibiting any act of treason, sedition, secession, or subversion against the CCP.
According to the ICC, “China’s notorious legal system and its lack of transparency can easily criminalize anyone and put them in jail.”
“Many Chinese pastors and Christians, such as pastor Wang Yi, elder Qin Derfu, pastor John Cao, are now imprisoned for trumped-up charges, such as ‘subversion of state power,’ ‘illegal border crossing,’ and ‘illegal business operation,’” the document said.
Meanwhile, on several occasions, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has openly criticized the CCP’s attempt to subvert the security powers of the Special Administrative Region and in late May said, “Hong Kong no longer enjoys a high degree of autonomy from China.”
Both the UK and Taiwan have decided to set up a special office to help people trying to leave Hong Kong if the new security laws are implemented.