Hong Kong’s national security law affects U.S. citizens; lawyer Kwan Sheung-yee arrested in major raid

Hong Kong police arrested John Clancey, an American lawyer, in a major arrest operation Wednesday. It was the first U.S. citizen arrested by Hong Kong police under the Communist Party’s National Security Law in Hong Kong since the law was introduced.

Clancey is the chairman of the Asian Human Rights Commission and a member of the Hong Kong pro-democracy group Democracy Power. He is also a member of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy group, Democracy Power, which has coordinated many of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy efforts in the Legislative Council and District Council elections.

About 10 plainclothes police officers came to the law firm in Central on Jan. 6 and arrested Kwan, according to Hong Kong Free Press. Former Hong Kong legislator Albert Ho, who also works at the law firm, was also arrested in the raid.

A video released by Hong Kong media outlet Citizen News showed Kwan Sheung-yee telling people as he was taken away by police, “We need to keep working for democracy and human rights in Hong Kong.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, responding to a question about Guan Shangyi’s arrest at a press conference on Wednesday, said again, “China is a country under the rule of law, Hong Kong is a society under the rule of law, and we support the Hong Kong police to perform their duties normally.”

Hua also said that it is “necessary and essential” for the Hong Kong police to arrest people suspected of violating Hong Kong’s national security laws, and that the Hong Kong government “will not tolerate the crime of subversion of state power.”

According to Hong Kong media reports, the Hong Kong Police Department’s National Security Division deployed thousands of police officers to raid 72 places during the raid, and arrested 53 pro-democracy activists on suspicion of “subversion of state power”. This is the largest of many raids conducted by the Hong Kong police since the enactment of the National Security Law.

Hong Kong police said they were suspected of organizing and plotting subversion of state power for their involvement in last July’s primary election for District Council members. Upwards of 600,000 people voted in that election, which was a resounding victory for the pro-democracy camp and sent shockwaves through Zhongnanhai.

According to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the actions of these people are suspected of constituting “subversion of state power” under Hong Kong’s national security laws.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) passed Hong Kong’s national security law last year at the personal urging of Xi Jinping, the Communist Party’s general secretary. The law took effect on June 30 of last year. The law creates four criminal offences against Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement: secession; subversion of state power; terrorist activities; and colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security.

Senior Superintendent Lee Kwai-wah of the National Security Branch of the Hong Kong Police Force told a news conference Wednesday afternoon that those arrested were trying to gain a majority in the Legislative Council and thus paralyze the government, forcing Carrie Lam to resign.

The South China Morning Post said all the pro-democracy candidates who ran in that election were arrested by police. At least seven people from Hong Kong’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Hong Kong, were arrested, including its former chairman, Raymond Wu, and former lawmakers including James To, Wan Siu-kin and Lam Cheuk-ting. The Civic Party’s Yang Yueqiao and Kwok Ka-ki, former pan-democratic lawmakers Chan Chi-chuen and Chu Kai-dee, and former associate professor of the University of Hong Kong Law School Tai Yiu-ting were also arrested.

Anthony Blinken, the Biden team’s nominee for Secretary of State, condemned the Hong Kong police’s massive manhunt. He tweeted that the operation was “an attack on those who courageously advocate for universal human rights. “The Biden-Harris administration will stand with the people of Hong Kong in opposing Beijing’s crackdown on democracy,” he said.