Whether a Public Security Bureau official can arrest a Hong Kong resident in Hong Kong and have him sent back to the PRC for an offence committed in the PRC (1994 to May 2001) [CHN36970.E]

A professor of law at the University of Washington in Seattle, a visiting scholar at Harvard School of Law's East Asian Legal Studies Department and an attorny at law in Hong Kong each stated that the Public Security Bureau (PSB) has no jurisdiction in Hong Kong to carry out law enforcement operations (16 May 2001; 17 May 2001; 17 May 2001). The professor of law at the University of Washington added that this was certainly the case also before the handover in 1997 (16 May 2001).

While the professor of law at the University of Washington stated that the arrest of a resident of Hong Kong in Hong Kong "would be tantamount to kidnapping" (ibid.), the attorney at law stated that if the PSB were to carry out activities in Hong Kong, it would be in violation of the "one-country-two-system doctrine" (17 May 2001). The visiting scholar at Harvard School of Law states that "absent a declaration of emergency under article 23 of the Basic Law [of Hong Kong] Chinese mainland law enforcement have no role" in the territory (17 May 2001). He further related incidents in which mainland citizens were arrested in the PRC for crimes committed in Hong Kong and that these cases had caused concern for the Hong Kong government with regards to its autonomy (ibid.).

According to Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, Secretary for Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region:

Hong Kong had established an informal arrangement to provide mutual assistance in investigations with the Guangdong and Fujian authorities in the 1980s as co-operation between the two sides grew. PSB officials, who needed to carry out investigations in Hong Kong, usually went through the PSB Ministry and then Interpol, and a request would be submitted to Hong Kong police, who would then seek advice from the Department of Justice and the Security Bureau (Hong Kong Standard 11 May 2000).

The statements made by the Secretary of Security were made in the context of allegations stemming from an incident in which PSB officers from Zhaoqing Guangdong province had entered Hong Kong territory in 1995 to search the home of a Hong Kong resident who had links to a corruption case in the PRC (ibid.). In response to the incident, Liang Guoju, Guangdong PSB Chief, said that the "informal legal arrangement" between Hong Kong and mainland China had functioned "smoothly" since the 1980s and that there were no plans to "for PSB officials to conduct law enforcement duties illegally in Hong Kong" (ibid.).

In response to the incident mentioned above of the Guangdong resident, who was escorted to Hong Kong by the PSB, the director of the Society for Community Organisation (Soco) said that while mainland police officers and those in Hong Kong cooperated in combating crime, these operations were carried out:

in strict accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction concerned, and consistent with the mode of international police to police co-operation. The law enforcement agencies respect each other's jurisdiction. There is no question that PSB officials would exercise jurisdiction in Hong Kong" (Hong Kong Standard 23 Apr. 2000).

DPA reported in November 1998 that three Hong Kong residents had been sentenced to death in the PRC for trading illegal arms and smuggling (12 Nov. 1998). The Secretary of Security for Hong Kong stated that they had been sentenced for crimes committed in the PRC and that, as a result of violating China's Criminal Code, "the Chinese criminal system applied to them" (ibid.). The case was controversial because most of the offences allegedly took place in Hong Kong (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Attorney at law, Perkins Coie, Hong Kong. 17 May 2001. Correspondence.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 12 November 1998. "Hong Kong Respects China's Judicial System, Security Chief Says." (NEXIS)

Hong Kong Standard. 11 May 2000. "PRC Mainland Said Not to Enforce Law Illegally in HK." (FBIS-CHI-2000-0511 11 May 2000/WNC)

_____. 23 April 2000. "Probe Urged of Hong Kong Raid by Mainland PRC Police." (FBIS-CHI-2000-0424 23 Apr. 2000/WNC)

Professor of law, University of Washington, Seattle. 16 May 2001. Correspondence.

Visiting scholar, East Asian Legal Studies, Harvard School of Law, Cambridge. 17 May 2001. Correspondence.