A former officer at the British consulate in Hong Kong who claimed he was tortured during a business trip to China has been granted political asylum in Britain.
Simon Cheng, a British overseas national, said on Wednesday evening his application for asylum had been approved on June 26 by the UK government.
“I am grateful for the courage shown by the UK to rescue British nationals,” he said, adding that he hoped his case could serve as a precedent for other Hongkongers seeking protection.
Cheng, a Hong Kong citizen and holder of a British National Overseas passport, was detained at the border for 15 days in August on his way back from the Chinese city of Shenzhen.
“The decision is based on the United Nations convention with rigorous rule of law system, to recognise my case is intrinsically political persecution. Leaving means just a beginning. We continue to fight against the expanding totalitarianism, be back to with democracy and freedom,” Cheng said.
He told the Guardian he was tortured for days, forced to falsely confess that he and the British government were involved in the city’s pro-democracy protests.
Last month, he told the BBC he had no regrets about reporting on the pro-democracy protests for the British government.
“I believe we need to fight for democracy, not only in Hong Kong but in China,” he said. “I collected that information for the better good.”
As Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong intensifies, reports are growing of residents seeking protection abroad, including in Canada, Taiwan, and Australia.
The UK has expanded its offer of residence for overseas nationals in Hong Kong, offering up to 3 million people the chance to settle in the UK and apply for citizenship.
This week sweeping national security laws came into effect in Hong Kong, imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous legislature. The laws have been criticised as broad, undefined, and draconian.
More than 370 people were arrested during protests on Wednesday, the first full day of life under the new laws. At least 10 people were charged with the new offences, including carrying flags which supported Hong Kong independence. (Source: The Guardian)