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The Chinese navy captures the 30-year-old British democracy activist while trying to flee Hong Kong in a small boat

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

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

Li had been arrested two weeks earlier under draconian new security laws introduced by Beijing to ban protests. While on bail, Mr. Li has been warned by his lawyers that he could get life imprisonment if he is eventually brought to trial.

British democracy activist Andy Li (pictured) has been captured by the Chinese after attempting a dramatic sea escape from Hong Kong to Taiwan

British democracy activist Andy Li (pictured) has been captured by the Chinese after attempting a dramatic sea escape from Hong Kong to Taiwan

After being told that the British Consulate in Hong Kong could not help him, Mr. Li, who had British national (overseas) status, came up with the desperate escape plan.

Last night, Mr. Duncan Smith, who helped establish the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance for China (IPAC), said that Mr. Li had risked his life to try to reach self-governing Taiwan, which regularly provides refuge for people fleeing the mainland .

Mr. Duncan Smith wrote for The Mail on Sunday: “Andy and eleven others, all young and desperate, risked everything in an attempt to escape to Taiwan. They crowded into an overloaded old boat, not seaworthy and in the hands of a novice, and set off for one of the most heavily guarded seas in the world. Unfortunately they have been arrested by the Chinese authorities. ‘

30-year-old Li was intercepted in international waters, along with 11 other activists, as they attempted to navigate the dangerous South China Sea in a small boat (photo)

30-year-old Li was intercepted in international waters, along with 11 other activists, as they attempted to navigate the dangerous South China Sea in a small boat (photo)

30-year-old Li was intercepted in international waters, along with 11 other activists, as they attempted to navigate the dangerous South China Sea in a small boat (photo)

Mr. Duncan Smith – a harsh critic of the Beijing regime – added, “As long as human rights are being abused in such a terrible way, we should not be doing business with China as usual.”

The protests in the former British colony last year were triggered by plans to extradite Hong Kong citizens to China.

Mr. Li, now detained in mainland China, had made only about a third of the dangerous 400 mile stretch to Taiwan when he was intercepted.

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

Chinese authorities told Mr. Li said working with politicians like Duncan Smith was evidence of “working with foreign forces to undermine Hong Kong’s national security.”

One of Mr. Li’s friends said: “Andy quit volunteering for IPAC before July 1, when the new security law went into effect, but the authorities would not listen. Rather than spending decades in mainland China in gulag-like conditions, he and the other activists paid a group of people smugglers to try to 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

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

They left at 7 p.m. local time last Saturday and called supporters an hour later on a satellite phone to say it was international waters, but did not call again an hour later as agreed. The seas were choppy and the boat was old, dilapidated and overloaded – far from seaworthy. The skipper had only trained for two days in how to handle a boat. It was a desperate attempt.

Although Andy was classified as a British citizen (Overseas) and of dual citizenship, the UK does not provide consular support to people of that status, so he had no choice.

Five of the boat’s passengers were college students, the youngest was just 16.

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

Others within the group are said to be involved in the seizure of weapons by the Hong Kong police, including a semi-automatic Glock pistol and 105 bullets.

More than 9,000 people have been arrested under the new security measures in Hong Kong.

We can’t have TikTok’s UK headquarters: IAIN DUNCAN SMITH says the UK’s buzz to do business with communist China should not replace our moral duty to speak up and stand up for freedom

By Iain Duncan Smith For The Mail On Sunday

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

However, the Chinese authorities fired a list of allegations at him, alleging that he was collaborating with foreigners. Hong Kong’s secret police wants to accuse him of “ collusion with foreign forces to undermine the state ” on the grounds that even before the National Security Act was passed, he had spoken to foreign democratic politicians, including the Interparliamentary Alliance against China. .

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

UK government is considering allowing Chinese company ByteDance, owners of TikTok app (image of file), to establish headquarters in London

UK government is considering allowing Chinese company ByteDance, owners of TikTok app (image of file), to establish headquarters in London

UK government is considering allowing Chinese company ByteDance, owners of TikTok app (image of file), to establish headquarters in London

Andy and eleven others, all young and desperate, risk everything in an attempt to escape to Taiwan. In an old and overloaded boat, not seaworthy and in the hands of a novice, they set out for one of the most heavily guarded seas in the world. Unfortunately, they were picked up by the Chinese authorities and taken to an unknown location.

China’s persecution of Falun Gong, the Christians and the Uyghurs is happening as we turn a blind eye to China’s horrific behavior. Instead, some business and political leaders even speak of China as a reliable partner.

Shockingly, the UK government is still considering allowing Chinese company ByteDance, owners of the TikTok app, to set up headquarters in London. This would be a serious mistake: all Chinese companies must hand over data to the Beijing government if necessary.

It’s no secret that China plans to become the world’s most powerful economy with the most powerful military by 2049. To do that, they need the free world that paves a path to their door to do business with them. So far they are winning.

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

The rush to do business with communist China should not replace our moral obligation – not even in business – to speak out and stand up for freedom. As long as human rights are being abused, we cannot do business with China as usual.

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

Yet the desire for cheaper goods should never increase the price of freedom beyond the reach of the likes of Andy.

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