US President Joe Biden on Thursday offered thousands of Hong Kong residents an 18-month “safe haven” to stay in the US instead of facing repression by deporting them to Chinese-controlled territory.
Biden criticized Beijing’s 14-month crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong and said it was “forcing” US foreign policy interests to allow Hong Kong residents to live and work in the US.
The exact number of people affected by the order was not immediately clear, but a senior Biden administration official said most of the 330,000 Hong Kong residents living in the US are eligible to live, excluding anyone who has been convicted of serious criminal offenses. has been convicted for.
In his order, Biden said that during the past year at least 100 opposition politicians, activists and demonstrators have been detained by the Chinese on multiple charges, while more than 10,000 individuals have been charged with other charges in connection with anti-government demonstrations. has been arrested. .
“The United States is committed to a foreign policy that combines our democratic values with our foreign policy goals that focus on protecting democracy and promoting human rights around the world,” Biden said.
“Offering safe haven for Hong Kong residents who are deprived of their guaranteed freedoms in Hong Kong advances the interests of the United States in the region,” the US leader said. “The United States will not back down in our support of the people in Hong Kong.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the US strongly opposes China’s use of its national security law to “deny basic rights and freedoms, attack Hong Kong’s autonomy and undermine its remaining democratic processes and institutions”. Is.
“Given the politically motivated arrests and prosecutions, the silence of the media and little room for elections and democratic protests, we will continue to take steps to support the people in Hong Kong,” Saki said.
Hong Kong is a former British colony, which returned under Beijing’s control in 1997.
As Chinese crackdown on dissent continues, the US imposed more sanctions on Chinese officials in Hong Kong last month. It advised businesses about the risks of operating under a national security law that China enacted last year, which it considers sabotage, separatism, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces.