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Good morning! Wendy Cox in Vancouver this morning.

Victor Ho, the former editor-in-chief of one of Canada’s largest Chinese-language newspapers, says he expected Beijing would not be thrilled with the announcement by Hong Kong activists that they plan to hold elections for a parliament in exile for the territory.

He just didn’t imagine the Chinese government would respond so swiftly.

Three weeks ago, Mr. Ho, who once was editor in chief of Sing Tao Daily, joined expats living in Canada, the United States and Britain to announce plans to create a democratic body to represent Hong Kongers around the globe. The aim is to design and build a voting system for an election late next year, giving voice to people who have had their ability to have a democratic say withdrawn after a years-long crackdown by Beijing.

Mr. Ho, who lives in Richmond, B.C., said the idea was partly inspired by the record high turnout in local elections in Hong Kong in 2019, the last held before regulations imposed by Beijing required all candidates to be “patriots.”

“Beijing altered the election legislation last year, disenfranchising the majority of Hong Kongers,” Mr. Ho told The Globe and Mail’s Asian correspondent James Griffiths last month.

Then, on Aug. 3, came the statement from Hong Kong, saying Mr. Ho is suspected of the offence of subversion for his advocacy work to establish the parliament.

“On the basis of Article 37 of the National Security Law, Police shall spare no efforts in pursuing the cases in accordance with the law in order to bring the offenders to justice,” the statement reads.

The 2020 National Security Law criminalizes secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces and it extends beyond Hong Kong residents, allowing Beijing to charge people who do not live in Hong Kong. Anyone accused of running afoul of it could be prosecuted and face life in prison should they happen to cross into Hong Kong or Chinese territory. Beijing has said the law is needed to bring stability to Hong Kong, a city that after its handover to China in 1997 had enjoyed freedoms not available elsewhere in the country.

Mr. Ho said Tuesday he learned he had been accused in the Aug. 3 statement through messages on social media.

“I just wondered, is this real or is this just a kind of warning from the Hong Kong government?” he said.

The former editor has been outspoken for years against the increasingly aggressive encroachment of Beijing into Hong Kong’s affairs. In 2020, Mr. Ho testified in front of a parliamentary committee that China’s effort to squelch dissent did not stop at Hong Kong’s borders.

He said China is active in creating groups in Canada that pretend to act as a voice for the entire Canadian Chinese community when, in fact, the groups are controlled by Beijing and act as a mouthpiece for the Communist government.

China, he told parliamentarians, “treats Chinese Canadians as Chinese nationals. They use identity politics, so I guess our government (Canada) should take a look at how these foreign agents . . . could have such influence and power to mobilize the local organizations to say the political viewpoints of China, but not to protect the national interests of Canada.”

Mr. Ho told reporter Xiao Xu on Wednesday that he has no plans to travel to Hong Kong any time soon, but he does worry about family members still in Hong Kong and China. He has ceased contact with them, he said.

Pro-democracy activists in Canada, as well as NDP MP Jenny Kwan and academics who study China, are calling on the federal government to ensure Mr. Ho and anyone else accused under the law are protected from Beijing’s reach.

In an open letter to the Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, Ms. Kwan said she found the targeting of Mr. Ho “gravely concerning”.

Ms. Kwan is calling on the federal Liberal government to condemn the Chinese law and publicly oppose the targeting of Mr. Ho.

She also said Canada should declare its support for the United Nations’ recommendation that urged Hong Kong to take action to repeal the law and refrain from applying it.

This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here.