China’s kidnap attempt in Hong Kong and harassment of overseas Chinese

By Jerome A. Cohen

Here’s an account by a Hong Kong media owner of a cross-border kidnap attempt by China, “How I Escaped a Kidnap Attempt by Chinese Agents in Hong Kong.” This account, which appears to be accurate, describes the most brazen PRC attempted kidnapping in Hong Kong yet reported.

It is good to know that the HK police prevented it from being successful, although whether they would have done so had they known at the outset that the kidnappers were PRC security police rather than conventional gangsters is a question. How Mr. Gu managed to resist long enough the extraordinary armed show of force by the PRC agents is a mystery. Apparently, when the local police discovered the men they detained were PRC agents, they initiated the cover-up that led to muffling of the event. Other, successful kidnappings have left me with the strong belief that the PRC agents could not have been successful in spiriting those victims to the mainland without the acquiescence of the HK police and immigration authorities.

Also of great interest in Mr. Gu’s report is his claim that very high-level representatives of the PRC State Security and Public Security ministries have often “interviewed” him in the U.S. “Household names” — in what households??

There have been similar reports of such missions in other cases of Chinese who have sought refuge in the U.S. (and Canada). It would be interesting to know how such visits are managed. How do such visitors get visas? To what extent are their activities monitored by our own security agencies? What understandings have been reached between American and Chinese security agencies concerning the rules that each side will respect when conducting undercover operations in the other side’s jurisdiction? I wonder what the rules in HK now are restraining PRC secret police since the publicity that has accompanied PRC kidnappings there since 2015. These incidents cry out for investigative reporting.

Finally, it is pathetic to see some HK and PRC officials and observers simply parrot the tired phrase “interference in internal affairs” in response to foreign warnings that an increasing number of official HK and PRC actions will adversely affect international business. Are the interests of foreigners and the adverse effect on their interests purely domestic questions?