Global community offers safe havens to Hong Kong residents after PRC repression
From the Indo-Pacific to Europe and North America, the global community has quickly responded to the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) latest crackdown on civil liberties in Hong Kong, with an outpouring of support and offers of safe havens for many of the city’s 7.5 million residents.
A little more than a week after the PRC imposed a harsh security law on the international financial hub, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced plans to grant extended stays to up to 14,000 Hong Kong passport holders. Those students and temporary skilled workers also will be eligible for “a pathway to permanent residency” in Australia.
“Australia has a long history of attracting Hong Kong’s best and brightest who have contributed significantly to our economic growth and job creation, and we are committed to ensuring this is further strengthened,” Morrison’s office said in a statement July 9, 2020.
The Australian government also will offer economic and visa incentives to entice some of the more than 1,000 international businesses with regional headquarters in Hong Kong to “relocate to a democratic country.”
Australia joined Canada, the United States and other nations in suspending extradition treaties with Hong Kong, citing the city’s loss of autonomy from mainland China. The 1997 agreement transferring the territory from Britain to China granted Hong Kong a high level of autonomy until 2047, but world leaders say the PRC has made a mockery of those guarantees in recent years.
The new security law is widely seen as targeting pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong, and its chilling effect was immediate as activists announced the disbanding of their opposition parties and as riot police, pictured, arrested hundreds of demonstrators.
Elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific, Taiwan opened a migration office to help Hong Kong residents relocate to the island. “Many things have changed in #HongKong since 1997, but #Taiwan’s commitment to supporting those #HKers who want freedom & democracy has never changed,” Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted June 30, the day the security law took effect.
Farther afield, United Kingdom leaders announced plans to offer extended stays and a path to citizenship for up to 3 million Hong Kong residents eligible for a British National (Overseas) passport. “China has broken its promise to the people of Hong Kong under its own laws,” U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Britain’s Parliament on July 1.
The Chinese regime has responded to such moves by threatening unspecified retaliation. “We reiterate that Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs that allow no foreign interference,” PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said during a July 2 news conference, according to the ministry’s website.
That has not stalled the gathering wave of support worldwide for the city’s people, even as nations deal with their own public health and economic challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Noting that 300,000 Canadians live in Hong Kong, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his nation would consider immigration-related measures to assist the city’s residents. “We will continue to look at responses working closely with our allies,” he said during a news conference July 3.
In the U.S. Congress, lawmakers introduced the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act, bipartisan legislation that would grant priority refugee status to Hong Kong residents who have been persecuted, or fear persecution, because they “peacefully protested Beijing’s corrupt justice system.”