Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday, said his government would be extending the stays of some 10,000 Hongkongers already in the country and offering pathways to permanent residency for thousands more who would qualify.
The announcement by the Australian government came after China imposed the new security law on Hong Kong that criminalises anyone critical of the authorities and those who support the protest movement.
“Australia is adjusting its laws, our sovereign laws, our sovereign immigration programme, things that we have responsibility for and jurisdiction over, to reflect the changes that we’re seeing take place there,” Morrison told journalists.
Under the plan, 10,000 Hong Kong citizens and residents in Australia on student or temporary work visas will be allowed to remain in the country for an additional five years, with a pathway to permanent residency.
The programme was also offered to Hong Kong entrepreneurs or skilled workers who wish to relocate to Australia in the future.
“If there are businesses that wish to relocate to Australia, creating jobs, bringing investment, creating opportunities for Australia, then we will be very proactive in seeking to encourage that,” Mr. Morrison said.
Beijing immediately slammed the move, saying it is a violation of “fundamental principles of international relations”.
“China… reserves the right to take further reactions; all consequences will be borne by Australia. Any attempts to suppress China will never succeed,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular news briefing in Beijing.
Mr. Morrison said his government wouldn’t heed Beijing’s threats.
“We will make decisions about what’s in our interests, and we will make decisions about our laws and our advisories, and we will do that rationally and soberly and consistently,” he said.
Meanwhile, Australian foreign minister Marise Payne said Canberra had discussed Hong Kong’s newly imposed national security law with its “Five Eyes” security partners — New Zealand, the United States, Britain, and Canada.
Hong Kong current affairs commentator Liu Ruishao said he expects to see similar offers from other countries in the days and weeks to come.
“I think this move by Australia will encourage a consensus among other Western countries, whether they be in Western Europe, or the U.S. and Canada,” Liu said.
“We could also see a change in the numbers of countries that are friendly with China for economic reasons, that could lean more towards the West for diplomatic and political reasons at the United Nations,” he said. (Source: RFA)