The Hong Kong government has said it will not interfere in the arrest of 12 Hong Kongers by Chinese authorities when they were trying to flee to Taiwan.
In a statement late on Sunday, the government said the families of the 12 individuals has requested the administration for help, Al Jazeera reported.Meanwhile, China on Sunday labelled the group 'separatists'.
"The relevant crime falls within the jurisdiction of the mainland and the special administrative region government respects and will not interfere with law enforcement actions," Hong Kong's government said.
The group was suspected of committing "various criminal offences" in Hong Kong, it added, as it urged the families to make use of a free legal consultation service provided.
Taiwan has opened its doors to people of Hong Kong who are escaping the city, which is rocked by months of protests and where China recently imposed a controversial national security law but has said they must arrive legally.
The Chinese foreign ministry in a statement confirmed that the group comprised 11 men and a woman, aged 16 to 33 have been detained while they were trying to escape China.
According to a South China Morning Post report, the foreign ministry in Beijing has declared that the group of young fugitives, some of whom were linked to last year's anti-government protests, were "elements attempting to separate Hong Kong from China".According to earlier Hong Kong media reports, among the people arrested was pro-democracy activist Andy Li.
Li is among the other pro-democracy activists including Agnes Chow and Jimmy Lai who were arrested on August 10 under the draconian National Security Law.
Since the enactment of draconian law, several pro-democracy activists have been fleeing for a safe haven to other countries.
Beijing had imposed the National Security Law in Hong Kong in June targeting acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison for the most serious offences.
The move came after months of social upheaval triggered by opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill but that morphed into wider demands, including universal suffrage.
The legislation, which came into effect on July 1, punishes what Beijing terms secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference with punishment ranging up to a life-term in prison.