US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday denounced the jail sentences of between seven months and three years in prison of ten Hong Kong pro-democracy activists who tried to flee by boat to Taiwan.
Pompeo said the ruling by the mainland court in China showed the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) true face to its citizens and the world.
“A regime that prevents its own people from leaving can lay no claim to greatness or global leadership. It is simply a fragile dictatorship, afraid of its own people,” Pompeo said in a statement.
The so called ‘Hong Kong 12’, was sentenced by a Shenzhen court on Wednesdayafter they tried to flee to Taiwan, a self-governing democracy claimed by Beijing, by boat.
Two of the defendant was turned over to the Hong Kong police because they were minors.
The Hong Kong 12were caught in August by the Chinese Coast Guard and had been held virtually incommunicado since they were taken into custody in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, which is near the Hong Kong border.
The conviction for illegal border crossing comes as China clamps down on dissent in Hong Kong, imposing a tough security law despite previous promises to guarantee a separate system in the former British colony and financial hub.
Pompeo, a vocal critic of Beijing, called the Hong Kong 12 to be “immediately and unconditionally released.”
The case “exposes once again Beijing’s brutality, blatant disregard for the international treaties it has signed, and its disdain for the rights of the Hong Kong people,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo, who leaves office on January 20 following President Donald Trump’s election defeat, has cast Beijing as a global adversary and vowed to end decades of US attempts to engage the communist leadership. (Source: CNA)