A 20-year-old American citizen involved in pro-democracy activity in Hong Kong says the American consulate in the city refused to help him avoid Chinese retaliation.
Ansen Wong, born in California and raised in Hong Kong, was convicted earlier this year for criminal damage related to protest activities, according to the Wall Street Journal. Now, Wong faces a trial for unlawful assembly because of a protest he attended outside the Hong Kong legislature in 2019.
Facing up to five years in prison if convicted, Wong went with three other protesters to the U.S. consulate on October 27th to seek refuge. He was told that wouldn’t be possible and was turned away with only legal advice and assurance that his case “would be monitored,” per the WSJ. (RELATED: Hong Kong Democracy Protesters Support Trump, View Biden As Weak)
American leaders have indicated support for protesting Hong Kongers, who have been demonstrating against a draconian Chinese security law recently passed that undermines the island’s autonomy. Washington has previously pledged to grant asylum-seekers from Hong Kong priority in immigration proceedings, according to the Wall Street Journal.
An American citizen facing prosecution related to his participation in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong said he was turned away after seeking protection at the U.S. consulate in the city https://t.co/GJ97CHk9n9
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) November 9, 2020
Granting refuge to dissidents in the consulate could ignite an international incident with China, CSIS China expert Jude Blanchette told the WSJ. American consulates don’t usually grant refuge for the purpose of avoiding prosecution outside “exceptional circumstances”, State Department guidelines say, per the WSJ. (RELATED: Chinese Communist Party Propagandist Says He Can’t Wait For Biden To Be President)
Wong approached the consulate with his three peers after being advised to do so by Friends of Hong Kong, a London-based organization aiding demonstrators, per the WSJ. Before they reached the consulate and were eventually denied refuge, a fifth member of Wong’s group was arrested for anti-government social media posts by Hong Kong police, the Journal reports.