China Views Critics As Terrorists and Criminals

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This article first appeared in the Washington Times

If you have been publicly critical of the Communist Chinese regime’s crushing of Hong Kong, hinted that you believe the COVID-19 virus may have escaped from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan, or spoken favorably about TaiwanBeijing’s security forces are claiming the right to come after you as part of China’s on-going campaign to silence its critics.

In 2020 the US Department of Justice indicted five Chinese agents in New York who were part of something called “Operation Foxhunt,” set up on orders of Chinese President and Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping to harass and return dissidents who have fled China for trial. Prosecutors charged that these “foxhunters” warned several US citizens of Chinese descent and others that unless they returned to China, their Mainland relatives would pay a heavy price for their obstinacy.

There is thus far no evidence that the Communist regime has kidnapped targets within the United States, but its agents do so when they believe they can get away with it in other countries. In 2016, a Chinese journalist who fled to India and Thailand to avoid arrest and persecution for criticizing the regime vanished while traveling in Southeast Asia only to turn up later as a prisoner in China.

Xi Jinping’s regime considers critics “a security threat” and asks the rest of the world to treat them as terrorists or criminals who should be apprehended and turned over to Beijing’s security forces. They routinely request international help, posting the names of dissidents with Interpol and asking other governments to deport or extradite them to stand trial in China.

Beijing’s attacks on freedom of speech and the press in Hong Kong created a firestorm of international disgust, which only encouraged Beijing to expand the worldwide attack on their critics. Beijing contends that their 2020 “National Security Law “extra-territorial “legal” authority to crack down on “criminals” who, for example, “like” a Twitter post critical of Chinese policy. While the new law was initially directed at Chinese critics of the regime’s Hong Kong policy, many believe it can and will be used against anyone who says or writes anything Beijing finds offensive.

This fear stems from a new law’s Article 38, which gives Chinese security forces the authority to visit similar punishment on anyone who expresses disagreement with Chinese policies. The language of Article 38 claims jurisdiction in cases arising “outside the region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the region.” As Donald C. Clark, a law professor at George Washington University, said after reading Article 38, “It is asserting extraterritorial jurisdiction over every person on the planet.”

The language of Article 38 is a threat designed to make businessmen, academic experts, and reporters the world over to think twice before criticizing Beijing. It means, for example, that anyone who has expressed any criticism who later travels to China, Hong Kong any nation prepared to do Beijing’s bidding may be turned over to Beijing for arrest, trial, and imprisoned by the regime for statements made in London, New York, or Washington.

David Keene, a trusted adviser to presidents, a longtime champion of personal liberty and one of conservatism’s most respected voices, is the former opinion editor of The Washington Times. An author, columnist and fixture on national television, Mr. Keene has championed conservative causes for more than five decades while offering advice to Republican presidents and countless candidates. He additionally served as chairman of the American Conservative Union and president of the National Rifle Association. He can be reached at