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US Should Bar John Lee from APEC for Placing Bounties on Heads of Democracy Activists

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

4 July 2023 – The Hong Kong government has placed a HK$1 million bounty on the heads of eight pro-democracy Hong Kongers, three of whom have sought safety in the United States: Anna Kwok, Dennis Kwok and Elmer Yuen. Following the notice of the bounties, the pro-Beijing leader of Hong Kong, John Lee, said the exiled activists will “live in fear” and be pursued “to the ends of the earth”.

John Lee has been barred from entering the United States since 2020 for his role in the destruction of Hong Kong’s civil liberties, yet, the United States is still considering whether it should grant a sanctions waiver to John Lee, the man who is responsible for these bounties, so that he can attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in San Francisco this November.

Under no circumstances should John Lee be permitted to attend APEC meetings on United States territory. The United States cannot have it both ways. They cannot condemn Hong Kong’s transnational repression against Hong Kong activists while welcoming the man who is behind the repression onto its own territory.

When US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visits Beijing later this week, she should publicly highlight the hypocrisy of wanting better business relations with China as it seeks bounty hunters abroad. This behaviour by the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong government should not be tolerated by the United States.

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