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World As China Clamps Down, Activists Flee Hong Kong for Refuge in the West

10:00  26 october  2020
10:00  26 october  2020 Source:   nytimes.com

Despite politics and coronavirus, Hong Kong's enduring love affair with real estate

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HONG KONG — In Western democracies, they have been welcomed as refugees escaping A group of Hong Kong activists who have been granted asylum in the United States, Canada and Germany in recent weeks are the latest catalyst for deteriorating relations between China and the West .

FILE - The Hong Kong skyline, Oct 10, 2020. In Western democracies, they have been welcomed as refugees escaping Beijing’s tightening grip over Hong Kong . A group of Hong Kong activists who have been granted asylum in the United States, Canada and Germany in recent weeks are the latest

a city at night: For decades, Hong Kong had been a place of shelter for people escaping war, famine and political oppression in mainland China. Now some protesters from Hong Kong have sought and been granted asylum abroad. © Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times For decades, Hong Kong had been a place of shelter for people escaping war, famine and political oppression in mainland China. Now some protesters from Hong Kong have sought and been granted asylum abroad.

Correction: October 26, 2020

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated when Vicky Xiao traveled to Hong Kong to join the protests. It was in August of 2019, not last August. 

HONG KONG — In Western democracies, they have been welcomed as refugees escaping Beijing’s tightening grip over Hong Kong.

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@kuku27 China has strong measures, it is not easy to flee . You could not imagine there would be refugees from Hong Kong a couple of decades ago but that's what has happened.

HONG KONG — Chinese authorities have detained a dozen activists from Hong Kong who were During tumultuous earlier periods in China ’s recent history, refugees fled to Hong Kong through The detentions have raised the prospect that the activists might be prosecuted in the mainland

In China, they have been denounced as violent criminals escaping punishment for their seditious activities.

A group of Hong Kong activists who have been granted asylum in the United States, Canada and Germany in recent weeks are the latest catalyst for deteriorating relations between China and the West. Western leaders have asserted that they will stand up for human rights in Hong Kong, while Chinese officials have rebuked the countries for what they called interference in Beijing’s affairs.

a group of people sitting at a table: China’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa last year. © Justin Tang/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press China’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa last year.

The protesters’ newly conferred status has made clear how profoundly Hong Kong has changed since China imposed a tough new security law this summer. For decades, the city had been a place of shelter for people escaping war, famine and political oppression in mainland China. Now the semiautonomous city has become a source of asylum seekers.

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JUST WATCHED. Activists are fleeing Hong Kong , once a safe haven. Flies buzz around rabbitfish drying in the sun on a concrete pier emerging from the sleepy fishing village of Po Toi O. This was the origin point for an ultimately failed escape attempt from Hong Kong that began one evening in August.

As China clamps down , activists flee Hong Kong for refuge in the West . Further articles on the same subject. Hong Kong / West . Create your own feed.

“The United States is a country that allows us freedom,” said Vicky Xiao, a 20-year-old university student from Hong Kong who is in California and seeking asylum in America.

Ms. Xiao said she feared being arrested if she returned to Hong Kong because she had taken part in the demonstrations that roiled the city last year. One of her former classmates who had also joined in the demonstrations in Hong Kong had been detained by the police, she said.

The United States is directly challenging Beijing over its crackdown on Hong Kong. The Trump administration moved to list refugees from the city as a priority for the first time — even as it reduced the total number of refugees the United States will take in annually. At least three bills now before Congress would enact greater protections for people fleeing Hong Kong for the United States. And the government has moved unusually quickly to grant asylum to at least two protesters who left Hong Kong late last year.

Hong Kong: three new arrests of pro-democracy activists

 Hong Kong: three new arrests of pro-democracy activists © ISAAC LAWRENCE Tony Chung, August 8. These three arrests, this Tuesday, show that the authorities are maintaining pressure on the pro-democracy movement, invoking the law on national security. No respite for Hong Kong activists. Pro-democracy activist Tony Chung was arrested again in Hong Kong on Tuesday at around 8 a.m. (1 a.m. in France). He was in a cafe near the US consulate when the police came to arrest him.

Activists are fleeing Hong Kong , once a safe haven 03:22. Hong Kong (CNN) When 12 Hong Kongers boarded a speedboat in the tiny fishing Speaking Tuesday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the fugitives had "chosen to flee , and in the course of fleeing , they entered another jurisdiction

HONG KONG — China ’s coast guard detained a group of Hong Kong activists after intercepting a boat in the South China Sea en route to Taiwan, where the passengers planned to seek refuge from Beijing’s national-security crackdown. The group, people familiar with the matter said

The two activists, who asked not to be named to protect their families in Hong Kong, showed The New York Times documents stating they had received asylum in September. They said they had fled to the Los Angeles area after receiving multiple calls from an unlisted number that made them concerned they were at risk of being detained.

a person sitting at a desk in front of a window: Simon Cheng in London on Wednesday. © Conor O'Leary for The New York Times Simon Cheng in London on Wednesday.

Ms. Xiao, the university student who is awaiting a decision on her asylum application, is also in Southern California. She is currently on a student visa and lives with her parents, who are on business visas.

She described sneaking out of her parents’ house with a backpack of clothes in August of last year and flying to Hong Kong to join the protests without their approval. She said she returned after three days, but has also helped organize protests in the United States, which she thinks could put her at risk of arrest if she had to return to Hong Kong after her visa expires.

“I don’t know what will happen to me if I go back to Hong Kong,” Ms. Xiao said. “But I don’t think that the consequences will be good.”

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Rights groups and Hong Kong activists have reported cases of scammers promising formal documentation for large sums of money, and some worry that ­ China -backed actors are seeking to contact and influence Hong Kongers in Taiwan under the guise of offering humanitarian assistance.

A pro- China group have confronted Hong Kong demonstrators in Japan and drowned out their chants by singing the national anthem. Violence in the anti-government demonstrations has been getting more heated in recent exchanges between activists and police in Hong Kong .

China has not commented on the U.S. asylum cases. But Beijing and the Hong Kong government have dismissed the notion that the city’s residents might need shelter from oppression, saying the authorities guarantee the rights of its people. “There are no so-called ‘refugees being persecuted’ in Hong Kong,” the city government said in a statement.

And officials have lashed out publicly at other countries. Hong Kong’s No. 2 leader, Matthew Cheung, summoned Germany’s consul general on Wednesday to complain after Germany granted asylum to a university student who was wanted on a rioting charge. Mr. Cheung said the move would “only send a plainly wrong message to criminals.”

In Canada, China’s ambassador, Cong Peiwu, warned Ottawa against accepting refugees from Hong Kong. He said that such a policy would embolden criminals in the Chinese city and put “the good health and safety” of 300,000 Canadian passport holders and companies in the territory at risk.

The ambassador’s remarks were regarded by some as a potential threat against Canadians in Hong Kong. They were also a reminder of the two Canadians who have been held for nearly two years in China in retaliation for the arrest of a top executive of Huawei, the Chinese technology giant. Canada’s foreign affairs minister, François-Philippe Champagne, denounced the comments as “totally unacceptable and disturbing.” (The Chinese government later asserted that the remarks had been taken out of context.)

Hong Kong activist charged under security law after being detained near US embassy

  Hong Kong activist charged under security law after being detained near US embassy Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the arrest. The former leader of pro-independence group Studentlocalism was denied bail after appearing in court on Thursday. He was charged with secession, money laundering and conspiracy to publish seditious material.

China’s crackdown over Hong Kong has prompted residents with means to consider their options elsewhere. Some have turned to Britain, Hong Kong’s former colonial master, which has expanded channels for the city’s residents to immigrate.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in June that the country would allow holders of British overseas passports in Hong Kong to live and work in Britain for up to five years and later apply for citizenship. The residency plan is open to nearly three million people in total.

China has criticized the plan. A foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said on Friday that Beijing is now considering not recognizing the British overseas passport as a valid travel document.

Interest in the passports has grown, with the number of overseas passport holders more than doubling to over 357,000 in April from about 170,000 in 2018. Such passports, which were given to Hong Kong residents before the territory was returned to China in 1997, bear the insignia of the British government but do not confer the rights of citizenship.

Derek Yeung, 60, who worked in sales for technical products, moved to Britain in August to take advantage of the new policy. He said that he had often traveled to the mainland for work and had seen corruption and abuses of power. His experience convinced him that he would eventually need to leave Hong Kong after it returned to Chinese rule.

“Because of my experience in China, I predicted that Hong Kong will soon degenerate into a police state,” he said by phone from Cambridge. The security law imposed this summer “just confirmed my fears,” he said.

Overseas activists have also set up nonprofits like Haven Assistance to help Hong Kong’s protesters navigate asylum procedures abroad. Popular destinations include the United States, Britain, Germany and Taiwan, which opened a government office to assist asylum seekers from Hong Kong this summer.

The group was started by Simon Cheng, who was granted political asylum in Britain in June, and other activists. Mr. Cheng says he gets 10 to 15 inquiries a day about asylum procedures in Britain alone.

“I am now safe here, but I need to help more people,” Mr. Cheng said. “I can’t be like a free rider.”

Mr. Cheng, a former employee of the British Consulate in Hong Kong, had been detained for 15 days in mainland China last year and accused of soliciting prostitution, a charge he denies. He says that while he was in custody he was beaten and hung for hours in a spread-eagle position, and coerced into making a videotaped confession.

Mr. Cheng said that as an overseas passport holder, he was eligible to stay in Britain, but that gaining asylum would demonstrate the injustice of his experience.

“I wanted to fight for my reputation, to show my detention politically motivated, that it was intrinsically persecution,” he said.

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