China: Protesters Who Fled Hong Kong Arrive in U.S., Seeking Asylum

Protesters Who Fled Hong Kong Arrive in U.S., Seeking Asylum

The five men fled by boat to Taiwan in July, soon after China imposed Hong Kong’s harsh national security law. This week, they landed in New York.

Last July, five young men boarded a recreational boat in a remote harbor in Hong Kong. They passed through waters patrolled by the Chinese authorities and headed east, across the South China Sea.

When they neared Taiwan, they cut off their motor, hoping to be rescued by the Taiwanese Coast Guard. They were in luck.

Now, after months in Taiwan, they intend to seek asylum in the United States, where they arrived at Kennedy International Airport in New York on Wednesday.

They are part of a trickle of political activists who have fled Hong Kong since China’s central government imposed a harsh national security law on the city in June, snuffing out many forms of political dissent, including the pro-democracy protests in which the five men had participated.

The account of their escape from Hong Kong, their stay in Taiwan and their arrival in the United States was provided by Samuel Chu, founder of the Hong Kong Democracy Council, a Washington-based advocacy group that arranged for the men’s travel and lodging and is helping them apply for asylum. None of the five men wanted to be identified out of concern that it could endanger their relatives in Hong Kong. One of them spoke on the condition of anonymity.

While in Taiwan, they were held on a military base and not allowed to communicate with their family and friends, though the man who agreed to be interviewed said they had been treated well. They believed that the United States offered the best chance for them to restart their lives, he said.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF: A behind-the-scenes look at Nicholas Kristof’s gritty journalism, as he travels around the world.
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