House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slammed the arrest of a Catholic cardinal in Hong Kong, calling it “one of the clearest signs yet of Beijing’s worsening crackdown” in an op-ed published Friday in The Washington Post.
Cardinal Joseph Zen and four other people were arrested earlier this week by the national security police in Hong Kong but were later released on bail amid continuing arrest operations, the Post reported.
The four had been involved in the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, now disbanded, which paid for the medical and legal fees of those who were detained during pro-democracy protests in 2019 as well as offering other financial assistance, according to the newspaper.
The five people arrested were trustees of the fund, and their work on the fund was cited in their arrest. They were accused of foreign collusion and detained under Hong Kong’s national security law.
“Zen’s arrest is one of the clearest signs yet of Beijing’s worsening crackdown as Hong Kong fights for its freedoms — and of Beijing’s growing desperation and fear that it is losing this fight. Indeed, this act of persecution is a sign of weakness, not a show of strength,” Pelosi wrote.
Pelosi urged others to condemn the arrests, which she said were “an affront to religious freedom, political freedoms and human rights.”
“As I have said before, if we do not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out on human rights anywhere in the world,” she added.
Imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong in 2020, the national security law gives more control to China over punishing activists and demonstrators and offers less judicial authority to Hong Kong on cases.
The US has been among several countries to criticize the law.