China on Friday denounce Washington’s offer of a safe-haven visa for Hong Kong residents seeking to avoid a growing crackdown on peaceful dissent and political opposition under a national security law, as Canada warned its citizens that they could be prevented from leaving Hong Kong under new immigration rules.
Hong Kong Foreign Ministry spokesperson “condemned and strongly opposed” the August 5 offer, which was made due to “significant erosion” of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong by the Chinese government , according to a statement by US President Joe Biden.
“By unilaterally imposing on Hong Kong the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the People’s Republic of China has undermined the enjoyment of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong,” he said. Biden said.
He cited the “politically motivated arrests” of more than 100 opposition politicians, activists and protesters on charges under the National Security Act, including allegations of secession, subversion and activities. terrorists, with more than 10,000 arrested under pre-existing laws for their part in the protest movement.
A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said the National Security Law had “restored stability” to the city following the 2019 protest movement and only targeted “a small number of anti-anti forces. Chinese and destabilizing in Hong Kong “.
Hong Kong law enforcement has arrested 117 people for alleged violations of the law, 64 of whom are currently being prosecuted, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a statement posted on the website of the ministry’s office in Hong Kong. Hong Kong.
“The United States fabricated lies to slander the national security law [and] anti-China coated in sugar, destabilizing the forces in Hong Kong, ”he said. “In doing so … the United States [stands] with… a small group of anti-Chinese and destabilizing forces in Hong Kong. “
Under the new visa arrangements known as “delayed forced departure,” Hong Kong residents currently in the United States can stay 18 months and will be allowed to work during that time.
The Hong Kong government also denounced the move, saying anyone seeking to avoid arrest in Hong Kong under the law is a “runaway offender.”
“Anyone who breaks the law should be responsible for their own behavior,” a government spokesperson said. “The people wanted for prosecution and who fled Hong Kong are fugitive delinquents. “
“The [Hong Kong] the government will pursue the legal responsibilities of the fugitives in accordance with the law to ensure that the offenders are brought to justice, “he said.
Prohibited exit warning
Biden’s announcement came as the Canadian government updated its travel advice for Hong Kong, warning that anyone in the city can now be barred from leaving under a new immigration law that is entered into force on August 1.
“Hong Kong authorities may prevent certain people from leaving the territory. In the absence of clarifying legislation, these new powers may relate to investigations of an individual, his family or an employer, and criminal and civil matters,” indicates the opinion of an official government. website says.
“You may not know you are subject to movement restrictions until you try to leave Hong Kong. It may be difficult to get information about movement restrictions from local authorities,” the council warned.
A Hong Kong security spokesperson said the changes were linked to the international advanced passenger information system and did not affect the freedom to travel, saying Canada had issued a “false and misleading statement” .
The amended bill, which came into force on August 1, includes a clause allowing border guards to prevent a person from boarding a flight or any other form of transportation out of town, opening up the lane of exit bans for any of Hong Kong’s seven million residents or even on visiting foreign nationals.
The amendment to Article 6A “enable[s] the director [of Immigration] to order that a passenger or a member of the crew of a carrier may or may not be carried on board the carrier “, according to copies of the draft amendments posted by the government.
The Hong Kong Bar Association (HKBA) asked in February that the law specify that the powers of the Security Secretary (via the Director of Immigration) do not include a ban on boarding a flight or another form of transportation from Hong Kong.
But the bill was eventually passed without such an amendment being put in place.
The HKBA’s view was that the law “could have the effect of prohibiting Hong Kong residents from boarding any plane or other means of transportation to or from Hong Kong.”
Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.