The recent arrest of Hong Kong student democracy activists was condemned by the United States as another sign of China’s national security law curtailing freedoms but at the same time declined to comment on turning away asylum seekers at its consulate.
“We condemn the Hong Kong Police Force’s arrest and detention of three student democracy activists,” the State Department official said in a statement.
“The National Security Law continues to be used to stifle dissent and curtail individual freedoms of the people of Hong Kong — not to ensure security,” the official also said.
But when asked about a South China Morning Post report that four activists entered the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong on Tuesday in a bid to claim asylum, but were rejected, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said “due to privacy considerations, we cannot comment”.
The official noted, “Asylum can only be requested upon arrival in the United States.”
The development followed the reported arrest of 19-year-old Tony Chung, a former leader of a pro-independence group, at a coffee shop opposite the U.S. consulate on Tuesday morning.
The State Department official added that the use of the police’s national security unit for the detention of a minor in a coffee shop is “reprehensible.”
The arrest was made before he could approach the consulate for asylum. Hours later, two former members of the group were also arrested.
All three had been out on bail since July after first being arrested for alleged violations of the national security legislation on Hong Kong, which was enacted in late June, according to the South China Morning Post. (Source: Mainichi Japan)