If reports of Hong Kong offering bounties for pro-democracy activists prove to be true, it is a grave violation of international conventions protecting an individual’s right to engage in peaceful protest and dissent. Additionally, it is deeply concerning that reports suggest that Chinese laws have been used to authorise such an action, as this would be another sign of Beijing’s increasingly oppressive control over the territory.
The US State Department has already spoken out against such an act and warned that such actions will be met with “consequences”. It is possible that the US could respond with sanctions, tariffs, and other measures to put pressure on Hong Kong and China. It is also likely that the US intelligence community will investigate the matter further to determine the extent of China’s involvement and identify those responsible in order to take appropriate measures.
Regardless of the US response, it is essential that the matter is discussed by the United Nations Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council in order to address this blatant violation of human rights and ensure that those responsible are held accountable. Furthermore, all nations must speak out against such a measure in order to send a clear message that the international community will not tolerate oppressive actions against those who seek to exercise their right to free expression.