Chinese Navy captures British democracy activist, 30, as he tries to flee Hong Kong in a small boat

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A British democracy activist has been captured by the Chinese after trying to escape by sea from Hong Kong to Taiwan.

Andy Li, 30, who worked with former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and other politicians on pro-democracy campaigns, was intercepted in international waters, along with 11 other activists, as they were trying to navigate the perilous South China Sea in a small boat. .

Mr. Li had been arrested two weeks earlier under draconian new security laws introduced by Beijing in an attempt to root out the protests. While on bail, Mr. Li was warned by his lawyers that he risked life imprisonment upon trial.

British democracy activist Andy Li (pictured) was captured by the Chinese after trying to escape by sea from Hong Kong to Taiwan

After Mr Li, who had British (overseas) national status, was informed that the British consulate in Hong Kong was unable to assist him, he developed the evacuation plan desperate.

Last night, Duncan Smith, who helped found the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), said Li risked his life to try to reach an autonomous Taiwan, which regularly provides refuge to people fleeing the continent.

Writing for The Mail on Sunday, right, Duncan Smith said: “Andy and 11 others, all young and desperate, risked everything to try to escape to Taiwan. They piled into an old, overloaded, non-navigable boat in the hands of a novice and made their way to one of the world’s most guarded seas. Unfortunately, they were arrested by Chinese authorities.

Mr. Li, 30, was intercepted in international waters, along with 11 other activists, as they attempted to navigate the perilous South China Sea in a small boat (pictured)

Mr. Li, 30, was intercepted in international waters, along with 11 other activists, as they attempted to navigate the perilous South China Sea in a small boat (pictured)

Mr. Duncan Smith – a sharp critic of the Beijing regime – added: “As long as human rights are violated in such appalling ways, we should not conduct our business as usual with China. “

Protests in the former British colony were sparked last year by plans to allow Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to China.

Mr. Li, who is now detained on mainland China, had only walked about a third of the way through the perilous 400-mile stretch to Taiwan when he was intercepted.

He was a co-founder of Fight for Freedom Stand for Hong Kong, a campaign that raised £ 1.7million to support pro-democracy activities, was instrumental in setting up the website of IPAC and was involved in digital backstage support.

Chinese authorities told Li that working with politicians such as Duncan Smith was evidence of “collaborating with foreign forces to undermine Hong Kong’s national security.”

One of Mr. Li’s friends said, “Andy stopped volunteering for IPAC before July 1, when the new security law came into effect, but the authorities wouldn’t listen. . Rather than spending decades in gulag-like conditions on mainland China, he and the other activists paid a group of smugglers to try and get them to Taiwan.

Mr Li has worked with former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith (pictured) and other politicians on pro-democracy campaigns

Mr Li has worked with former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith (pictured) and other politicians on pro-democracy campaigns

“They left last Saturday at 7 pm local time and called supporters an hour later on a satellite phone to say they were in international waters, but did not call back an hour later as agreed. The seas were rough and the boat was old, decrepit, and heavily overloaded – far from seaworthy. The skipper had trained for only two days on the handling of a boat. It was a desperate attempt.

“Although Andy was classified as a British (overseas) national and had dual citizenship, the UK does not, as a matter of principle, provide consular support to people with this status, so it did not have a another option. “

Five of the boat’s passengers were students, the youngest being just 16 years old.

According to local media, some of the activists on the boat had been linked to a foiled bomb plot last December when two homemade devices, each containing 11 lbs of high-quality explosives, were discovered by police.

Other members of the group were allegedly involved in the police seizure of weapons in Hong Kong, including a Glock semi-automatic pistol and 105 bullets.

More than 9,000 people have been arrested as part of the new security crackdown in Hong Kong.

We can’t have TikTok Headquarters in Britain: IAIN DUNCAN SMITH says UK’s rush to do business with Communist China shouldn’t replace our moral duty to speak out and defend freedom

By Iain Duncan Smith for Sunday Mail

Two weeks ago, young activist Andy Li was arrested under the new national security law that Beijing has imposed on Hong Kong. His crime? Peacefully promote democracy in his country – without ever forgiving violence.

Chinese authorities, however, pulled a list of charges for him centered on the charge that he collaborated with foreigners. The Hong Kong secret police want to accuse him of “colluding with foreign forces to undermine the state” on the grounds that he spoke, even before the national security law was passed, to foreign Democratic politicians, including the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China. .

This organization, of which I am a member, is made up of politicians from left and right from 17 countries in America, Europe, Africa and Asia, all of whom are concerned about the aggressive nature of China. For example, he recently released new information showing that Uyghur women in Xinjiang have been systematically sterilized and that they – and their men – have been held in forced labor camps.

UK government plans to allow Chinese company ByteDance - owner of the TikTok app (file image) - to establish a headquarters in London

UK government plans to allow Chinese company ByteDance, owner of the TikTok app (file image) – to establish a headquarters in London

Andy and 11 others, all young and desperate, risked everything to try to flee to Taiwan. In an old and overloaded boat, out of the sea and in the hands of a novice, they embark on one of the most guarded seas in the world. Unfortunately, they were arrested by Chinese authorities and taken to an unknown location.

China’s persecution of Falun Gong, Christians and Uighurs occurs as we turn a blind eye to China’s appalling behavior. Instead, some economic and political leaders even speak of China as a reliable partner.

Shockingly, the UK government is still considering allowing Chinese company ByteDance, which owns the TikTok app, to establish a headquarters in London. That would be a big mistake: All Chinese companies are required to hand over data to the Beijing government when needed.

It’s no secret that China intends to become the most powerful economy in the world with the most powerful military by 2049. To do so, they need the free world to break through. a way to their door to do business with them. So far they are winning.

Andy and his comrades want to live only with the freedoms that we in Britain take for granted every day.

The rush for business with Communist China must not replace our moral duty – even in business – to speak out and defend freedom. As long as human rights are violated in such appalling ways, we should not conduct our business as usual with China.

Throughout history, the price of freedom has always been high.

Yet the desire for cheaper products should never be allowed to increase the price of freedom beyond the reach of people like Andy.

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