In another move to put pressure on the Chinese Communist Party, United States President Joe Biden on Thursday (5) offered temporary asylum to Hong Kong citizens who are on American soil.
According to a White House memorandum released Thursday, the Honcongs will be able to stay in the United States for an additional 18 months, even without a residence permit, and will also be able to work and study in the country during that time.
The move is likely to exacerbate tensions with Xi Jinping’s government, which has tightened its grip on Hong Kong, a city with special administrative status since its return to China from the UK 24 years ago. The Chinese government has stepped up its crackdown in Hong Kong, especially after the National Security Law was passed last year, which can punish dissidents with life imprisonment. The legislation has been criticized for ending the judicial autonomy that the former British colony was supposed to have until 2047, under the 1997 land restitution agreement.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi again said on Thursday that Hong Kong is China’s internal affair in which other countries should not interfere.
The US government statement directly criticizes the Chinese government, saying the security law “undermines rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.” Since the passage of the new legislation, the Biden government said, “Hong Kong police have continued a campaign of political arrests, detaining at least 100 opposition politicians, activists and protesters on charges related to the new law, including secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or external elements.
According to the Americans, more than 10,000 Honcongs have been arrested during anti-government protests. “Last year, China continued its attack on Hong Kong autonomy, undermining its remaining democratic processes and institutions, imposing limits on academic freedom and cracking down on press freedom,” the statement said, referring to to the recent shutdown of the Apple Daily newspaper. , critic of the government.
The US government has used the crackdown in Hong Kong to increase pressure on China, now the United States’ biggest trade adversary. Last month, the Biden administration issued a warning to U.S. companies operating in Hong Kong, citing the risks of electronic surveillance and having to transmit data to the Chinese government.
Also in July, the United States imposed sanctions on Chinese authorities related to the crackdown in Hong Kong, freezing assets it owns in the United States and prohibiting Americans from doing business with them. The sanctions have been responded to halfway around the world, and the Chinese government has also sanctioned US officials.
Biden doubled down on China, making it clear that rising tensions under Republican Donald Trump should not be appeased now in the Democratic administration.
But animosity is also growing on the Chinese side. Thursday, before the US announcement, Minister Wang Yi criticized the US government for “trying to use multilateral platforms to attack and tarnish China in internal affairs.” Wang cited criticism of Hong Kong as well as Xinjiang, a western province where China is accused of violating human rights against the Uyghur ethnic minority.
He referred to the 11th Meeting of Southeast Asian Foreign Ministers, which was attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken this year. Another sensitive point in international relations is in Southeast Asia, the South China Sea, a strategic region of great economic importance over which the Chinese claim control, which is contested by other nations.
A statement released Thursday by China’s Foreign Ministry said the enactment of the National Security Law and electoral system reform “restored stability and improved the rule of law in Hong Kong,” saying 70% of the country’s population is satisfied with the current model.
“What are you worried about? Do you want Hong Kong to return to chaos and turmoil and the ‘Hong Kong independence’ forces to return to the streets? Is that what you want?” Wang a said to Blinken.
Criticizing accusations that China was committing genocide against the Uyghur people, the Chinese minister said that “the mass murders that the United States has committed against its indigenous people are the real genocide.”
Tensions are expected to rise further this month when US Vice President Kamala Harris visits Vietnam and Singapore.