Police have rescued four men suspected of illegally entering Hong Kong after a fisherman alerted authorities when he spotted the group on a tiny island in the southwest of the city indicating they needed help.
Marine police officers found the four non-Chinese men on Peaked Hill, southwest of Lantau Island, after receiving the report at around 1.30pm on Saturday.
The force deployed a patrol boat to rescue three of the men, who were sent to the marine police base in Tai Lam Chung, while the fourth, who was reportedly injured but conscious, was airlifted off the island, according to the force.
Officers patrolled nearby waters afterwards to check whether any other suspects remained in the area.
The case followed a string of arrests for suspected illegal entry in the past two months. Data from the force showed that 119 people from South Asian countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan were arrested in nine incidents between October 22 and November 6.
Late last month, 13 men from Bangladesh were found stranded on Shek Kwu Chau island in the city’s southwestern waters, claiming they did not have any food and water.
In the first 10 months of the year, 1,241 illegal immigrants were arrested, including 968 people from countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Vietnam, as well as 273 mainland Chinese.
The number of South Asian entrants caught this year is nearly twice the 482 arrested in 2022.
In response, police have mounted joint operations with mainland Chinese authorities to target people smuggling
Most of these people made their way into the city via Shenzhen and Zhuhai, Tang said, adding they would then call police after arriving on one of the small islands and surrender themselves. He said they were coming to Hong Kong to claim non-refoulement protection.
While asylum seekers might find Hong Kong an “attractive place”, he rejected that notion, saying the city had a stringent system in place to review their claims for protection.
Only about 1 per cent of applicants eventually attain non-refoulement status in Hong Kong, he stressed.