Australia extends Hong Kongers' visas after security law imposed

WION Web Team Sydney, Australia Jul 09, 2020, 10.00 AM(IST)

Hong Kong unrest Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government would now suspend its extradition agreement with Hong Kong and would offer thousands of Hong Kongers in Australia on temporary visas a pathway to permanent residency.

Australia on Thursday offered protection for Hong Kongers living in the country in response to China's imposition of a national security law for the territory.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government would now suspend its extradition agreement with Hong Kong and would offer thousands of Hong Kongers in Australia on temporary visas a pathway to permanent residency.

His announcement came a day after China opened a new office in Hong Kong for its intelligence agents to oversee implementation of the law imposed last week targeting acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion.

He said the decisions were taken because the security law "constitutes a fundamental change of circumstances", adding that Beijing and Hong Kong authorities had been notified of the plans.

Morrison said about 10,000 Hong Kong citizens and residents in Australia on student or temporary work visas would be allowed to remain in the country for an additional five years regardless of the expiry date on their current visas.

Australia will also provide a five-year visa with a pathway to permanent residency for future Hong Kong applicants for temporary skilled visas, subject to meeting an updated skills list and appropriate marking.

The law is the most radical change in Hong Kong's freedoms and autonomy since Britain handed the city back to China in 1997.

Shortly before Morrison's announcement, Australia's foreign ministry warned its citizens in Hong Kong of the risk of detention under the new security law, which it called "vaguely defined". It urged Australian nationals to "reconsider your need to remain in Hong Kong" if they have concerns about the new law.

In Thursday's notice, the ministry said the security law imposed on Hong Kong could be "interpreted broadly" and lead to Australians being transferred to mainland China for prosecution.

(with inputs from agencies)