Hong Kong caught in tug of war as customs seize shipment military vehicles from Taiwan
Nine armoured military vehicles, along with components and accessories, have been confiscated by Hong Kong customs in a routine inspection at the Kwai Chung terminal, marking one of the biggest seizure of strategic commodities in two decades.
Preliminary investigation showed the consignment was being shipped from Taiwan to Singapore, the Post has learned.
“Hong Kong was not its final destination. It is not known why the consignment was unloaded here,” a government source with knowledge of the matter said.
The source said it was possible the containers carrying the military carriers were unloaded by mistake at the terminal with other general goods.
“We are still trying to identify the owner, sender and consignee of the cargo,” he said adding that a licence is required to import and export strategic commodities – defined on the Customs and Excise Department’s website as products ranging from high performance computers to sophisticated communication systems, high precision machinery and military weapons.
The seizure was made at the terminal on Wednesday after 12 containers were unloaded from a vessel arriving from Taiwan.
The armoured carriers and accessories were uncovered from nine of the containers when customs officers opened the containers for a routine inspection.
An investigation is underway. No arrests have been made.
The source believed it was the biggest seizure of strategic commodities in the city in two decades.
On Thursday, the department was not available for comment.
Under the Import and Export Ordinance, a licence issued by the director general of trade and industry is required for the import, export, re-export or transshipment of strategic commodities.
The maximum penalty for failing to obtain a licence is an unlimited fine and seven years’ imprisonment.
In 2000, five Soviet-made armoured military carriers were seized at the Kwai Chung terminal. They were ordered by state-run China Aviation Industry Supply and Marketing and were bound for Tianjin.
In 2006, customs officers confiscated a Soviet-made MIG-29 fighter jet which was being shipped to the United States.
In September 2010, a disarmed K-21 light tank and components were seized while being shipped from Saudi Arabia back to South Korea through Hong Kong. In October of the same year, customs officers also seized an armoured military carrier at the Kwai Chung container terminal.
Before the confiscation, both military vehicles had been shipped from Busan, South Korea, to Saudi Arabia for display at an exhibition. They were seized on their return journey back to Busan, while passing through Hong Kong.