HONG KONG • The Chinese authorities have arrested at least 10 people after intercepting a boat off the coast of the southern province of Guangdong, the provincial Coast Guard Bureau said in a post on its social media site.
Hong Kong media, citing unidentified sources, said 12 people from the city were arrested while sailing to Taiwan where they had planned to apply for political asylum.
It was not clear what law they would be charged with violating but, if confirmed, it would be a rare instance of the Chinese authorities arresting people from Hong Kong trying to leave the city.
The Guangdong Coast Guard said on its social media platform late on Wednesday that the people on the boat were arrested on Sunday.
Two of the suspects detained were surnamed Li and Tang, the coast guard said. It did not provide further details and could not be reached for comment.
Hong Kong media identified one of those on the vessel as Andy Li, whom they said was recently arrested under a sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong on June 30.
Mr Chris Tang, the Chinese-ruled city's police chief, said at a press conference that he had not received any information from the Chinese authorities regarding the arrests.
In Taipei, Taiwan's top China policy body - the Mainland Affairs Council - did not confirm the media report, but said those who come to Taiwan via illegal means will face criminal charges and reiterated the government's pledges to give humanitarian assistance to Hong Kong protesters.
The new security legislation, opposed by many in Hong Kong, punishes what Beijing broadly defines as subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
The Hong Kong government, police and security bureau did not immediately respond to a request for comment.