On Thursday, President Joe Biden offered a “temporary safe haven” to Hong Kong residents in the US, allowing them to extend their stay in the country due to “compelling foreign policy reasons”.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s branch in Hong Kong has hit out at President Joe Biden’s recent offer to implement a “deferral of removal” for up to 18 months for Hong Kong residents currently in the US.
In a statement on Friday, the branch described Biden’s move as “violently intervening” in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, adding that “by offering [a] so-called ‘safe haven’, it [the Biden administration] is trying to bad-mouth Hong Kong, smear China, and engage in actions to destroy the city’s prosperity and stability”.
The statement comes a day after POTUS directed the Department of Homeland Security to implement the extension of stay for Hongkongers in the US, citing “compelling foreign policy reasons”.
Biden also argued in a memo that “offering safe haven for Hong Kong residents who have been deprived of their guaranteed freedoms in Hong Kong furthers United States interests in the region”.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, for her part, pointed out that the move reflects Biden’s “strong support for people in Hong Kong in the face of ongoing repression by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and makes clear we will not stand idly by as the PRC breaks its promises to Hong Kong and to the international community”.
US-China Tensions Over Hong Kong
The Biden administration has repeatedly accused Chinese and Hong Kong officials of systematically undermining Hong Kong’s democratic institutions, delaying elections, disqualifying elected lawmakers from office, and forcing officials to take loyalty oaths to keep their jobs. China denies the accusations, describing them as outside meddling in its internal affairs.
In mid-July, the US targeted seven Chinese individuals with Hong Kong-related sanctions under the so-called Hong Kong Autonomy Act. The document was adopted last year to “impose sanctions with respect to foreign persons involved in the erosion of certain obligations of China with respect to Hong Kong”.
In a separate development last year, China introduced what it called the National Security Law in Hong Kong in response to huge democracy protests that swept through the city in 2019. Under the law, subversion, secession, cooperation with foreign forces, and terrorist activities are all forbidden, with each violation carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Opponents of the law, both in Hong Kong and abroad, slammed the document as a violation of freedom, while Beijing emphasised that the document aims to punish illegal activities without encroaching upon the local population’s rights.
Hong Kong is a former British colony that was handed back to China in 1997. Since then, the territory has been governed in line with the “one country, two systems” principle.