China arrests at least 10 at sea; Hong Kong media say suspects fleeing to Taiwan

Hong Kong media said 12 people were arrested while sailing to Taiwan where they planned to apply for political asylum.
Hong Kong media said 12 people were arrested while sailing to Taiwan where they planned to apply for political asylum.PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - 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 former British colony were arrested while sailing to Taiwan, where they 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 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 (Aug 26) that the people on the boat were arrested on Aug 23.

Two of the detained are surnamed Li and Tang, it 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 media said was recently arrested under a sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing on its freest city on June 30.

The 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.

Hong Kong’s police chief Chris Tang said on Thursday he had no information regarding the arrest and that he was actively seeking information regarding reports that a Hong Kong activist was among those arrested.

The Hong Kong government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Taiwan has proved a popular destination for Hong Kong people aiming to leave their city as Beijing tightens its grip, with the self-ruled island's President Tsai Ing-wen pledging to help those who arrive.