Following the UK’s lead which, in June, offered a path to UK citizenship to nearly 3 million Hong Kong residents, Australia is now extending a helping hand to the people of Hong Kong.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison just announced that Australia will suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and give the 10,000 Hong Kong citizens on temporary skilled, graduate, and student visas in the country a pathway to permanent residency.
The announcement is a response to Hong Kong’s new restrictive national security law, which was imposed last month by Beijing. According to Morrison, the law is a “a fundamental change of circumstances in respect to our extradition agreement with Hong Kong.”
Critics of the national security law claim that it undercuts the freedoms granted under the “One country, two systems” framework, namely freedom of speech and assembly, independent judiciary, and demoratic rights.
Australia would allow almost 10,000 Hong Kongers on temporary skilled, graduate, and student visa holders to remain in Australia for five years (the limit was previously two years), as well as offer incentives for Hong Kong businesses to relocate to Australia.
Alan Tudge, Australia’s acting immigration officer, said, “There is so much talent in Hong Kong. There are great businesses in Hong Kong. And we know that many individuals now might be looking elsewhere, because they do want to be in a freer country, they want to be in a democratic country.”
China, of course, isn’t pleased with Australia’s interference. “It grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian. “China will not accept it, and expresses strong condemnation. China reserves the right to take action, and Australia will have to bear all consequences because of that.”