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Following Australia and the United Kingdom (UK), Canada announced on 12 November a number of measures to support Hong Kong residents, including young activists being arrested and convicted for actions in peaceful protests that are not considered an offence in Canada. The Canadian measures will fill the gap of the UK’s lifeboat scheme that covers the 300 000 British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders and the 3 million people who could potentially qualify through the BNO route. Young activists born after 1997 are not BNO holders themselves.
The Canadian measures will provide quick access for Hong Kong students and youth to go to Canada on work and study permits as well as new pathways to stay permanently.
The Canadian measures came after China’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, warned Canada that accepting Hong Kong asylum seekers, who they framed as “violent criminals”, could potentially jeopardise the “good health and safety” of the 300 000 Canadian citizens living in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong office of China’s foreign ministry also warned the UK to “immediately correct its mistakes” and rescind the BNO route to UK citizenship a day after the BNO route was announced.
The UK-based Hong Kong Watch which monitors closely the political developments in Hong Kong and coordinates an International Lifeboat Campaign calls for the international community to convert statements of support into meaningful and timely action.
On 28th July, the Council of the European Union has also pledged a coordinated package of measures concerning asylum, migration, visa and residence from EU member states as a response of the introduction of the draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong.
On 14 October, Gemany has granted asylum to a 22-year-old female student of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), which was the first instance of a protestor receiving asylum in Germany related to the anti-extradition law movement. The German offer was, however, tainted by reported sexual harassment of the female protester by a staff member of the German refugee camp.
Other than that, there has not been further update on the coordinated measures of the EU member states.
At the time when this article was written, three prominent young pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Ivan Lam, Agnes Chow were remanded in custody for organiszing an illegal assembly to which they pleaded guilty. They were among the many in a new series of high-profile arrests of journalists, pro-democracy law-makers, youth activists, notably the 12 activists detained and denied legal representation for over 90 days in China when fleeing to Taiwan from Hong Kong. A Hong Kong radio host was also arrested on 21 November under the National Security Law for money-laundering in funding drive for protesters to study in Taiwan. Potentially, some 100 graduates of the CUHK could potentially be arrested for breaching the National Security Law after the security unit of the university reported them to the national security police for chanting pro-independence slogans on campus. The President of the University was accused by the police chief for siding with the students with his open letter calling for the government to investigate police mistreatment of the student protestors last year.