China has “fundamentally changed the foundation” of Hong Kong’s democratic institutions and “suppressed freedoms,” according to the United States.
Meet Beijing repression of democracy in Hong Kong, the United States will provide “safe haven” to citizens of Chinese territory for the next 18 months, allowing thousands of people to extend their stay in the United States, the White House said.
China “continued its attacks on the autonomy of Hong Kong, undermining its remaining democratic processes and institutions, imposing limits on academic freedom and cracking down on press freedom,” President Joe Biden said Thursday in a note describing the new policy.
“Providing safe haven for Hong Kong residents who have been deprived of their guaranteed freedoms in Hong Kong serves the interests of the United States in the region,” Biden said.
The vast majority of the thousands of Hong Kong residents currently in the United States are eligible for the program, a senior administration official told Reuters news agency. Legal conditions apply, such as those who have not been convicted of serious crimes.
The “safe haven” action is the latest step taken by the Biden administration to combat the erosion of free speech and democratic rights in the former British colony, which returned to Chinese control in 1997 .
At the time, Beijing pledged to uphold Hong Kong’s democratic system of governance under the “one country, two systems” principle which was commemorated in a Sino-British joint declaration and the “Basic Law” of Hong Kong. Hong Kong.
But with Beijing’s crackdown on rights over the past year, nearly 50,000 Hong Kong citizens have left the bustling southern Chinese port city for rebuild their life elsewhere, including the UK which has opened its doors potentially three million Hong Kong residents to live and work in the UK.
“Today, we are sending a clear message that the United States stands firmly in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
In June 2020, Beijing imposed a new “national security” law on Hong Kong and delayed elections, disqualified politicians who criticized Beijing, and shut down the free press.
Hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated in widespread and recurring protests and more than 10,000 people have been arrested in a Beijing-led police crackdown, US officials have said.
“The PRC has fundamentally changed the foundation of Hong Kong institutions and taken away freedoms from Hong Kong people,” Blinken said.
In July, the United States applied more sanctions on Chinese officials in Hong Kong, and issued an update warning companies of the risks of operating under the National Security Act.
China retaliation against the United States actions with its own sanctions against American individuals, including former US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
U.S. lawmakers in Congress have proposed legislation that would make easier for people from Hong Kong fearing persecution for joining protests against China for US refugee status.