Looking Down Opposite Ends Of The Telescope

TWO OPPOSITE FACING news reports reach this Bystander.

In the first one, eight individuals, including at least three Chinese nationals, have been charged by the United States in connection with the Fox Hunt campaign, Beijing’s anti-corruption programme to bring fugitives to book. Washington accuses the eight of being involved in extralegal targeting of dissidents and critics living in the United States and attempting to coerce them to return to China, although the specific case involves just one former provincial official now living in New Jersey.

Five of the eight were arrested in the United States. The remaining three are thought to be in China. All face charges of acting as an illegal agent of China, which would carry a prison sentence of up to five years. Six of the eight face an additional charge of conspiracy to commit interstate and international stalking. That also carries up to a five years prison term.

The second is a report in the South China Morning Post that four Hong Kong pro-democracy activists seeking asylum were turned away by the US Consulate in Hong Kong on Tuesday, with a fifth who had been planning to seek the same arrested, along with two others, by the Hong Kong Police’s national security unit before he could get into the consulate. There has been no confirmation of the story by US authorities, while Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, played a straight bat when asked about it at his daily press conference.

I’m not aware of that. China is a country with rule of law and Hong Kong is a place with law and order. We support Hong Kong law enforcement in fulfilling its duties according to law.

No official confirmation from either side may ever be forthcoming, given that the United States granting asylum in such circumstances would spark a major diplomatic incident between Beijing and Washington.

The intriguing question is why barking from a distance appears preferable just days ahead of a US election.

Update: The US State Department is being as opaque as its Chinese counterpart, saying:

[The State Department] cannot comment on our communications with U.S. citizens…..[Asylum] can only be requested upon arrival in the United States.

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Filed under China-U.S., Hong Kong

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