THE saga of the two Hong Kong men seized in local waters by Chinese security forces three weeks ago has gone from bad to worse. Yesterday they were charged by the Zhuhai authorities with smuggling, which carries the maximum penalty of death. What makes the charges seem incomprehensible is that London and Hong Kong were supposed to be trying to get the pair and their vessels back after they were seized by armed mainland security forces off Sai Kung on March 18. China maintains that the vessels were being followed on suspicion of smuggling and that mainland security forces had already boarded before strong winds pushed them back into Hong Kong waters. Therefore they were entirely within their right to abduct the men in Hong Kong and bring them to the mainland to face charges. However, this overlooks a crucial point. Chinese forces have no jurisdiction in Hong Kong, yet feel no hesitation in making arrests if their pursuit of suspicious vessels strays into local waters. It would be less worryingly if this incident were isolated, yet the growing number of incursions into territorial waters by Chinese security forces suggests a total disregard for Hong Kong law. China is, of course, entirely within its right to crack down on smuggling and take whatever measures it can to bring smugglers to justice. But should not be at the risk of ignoring the laws of Hong Kong. Britain should strenuously make its objections known over this incident. It is a test of how serious Britain and the Hong Kong governments are about upholding the rule of law and ensuring that it is respected by others.