House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) denounced the arrest of a Catholic cardinal in Hong Kong, calling it “one of the clearest signs yet of Beijing’s deteriorating performance” in an op-ed published Friday in The Washington Post.
Cardinal Joseph Zen and four other people were arrested by Hong Kong National Security Police earlier this week but were later released on bail amid ongoing 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 costs of those detained during pro-democracy protests in 2019 and provided other financial assistance, the paper said.
The five arrested were administrators of the fund and their work on the fund was mentioned when they were arrested. They were charged with foreign conspiracy and detained under Hong Kong’s national security law.
“Zen’s arrest is one of the clearest signs yet of Beijing’s deteriorating performance as Hong Kong fights for its freedoms — and of Beijing’s growing desperation and fear that it is losing this battle. This act of persecution is indeed a sign of weakness, not a sign 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’ve said before, if we don’t speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out about human rights anywhere in the world,” she added.
The National Security Law, which Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in 2020, gives China more control over the punishment of activists and protesters and reduces Hong Kong’s jurisdiction in cases.
The US is one of many countries that have criticized the law.