Hong Kong, June 22 (ANI): Amid protests against the new security law in Hong Kong, over 400 citizens are planning to seek asylum abroad after the imposition of the draconian legislation by China.
South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that about 470 people had sought refugee status in Australia, Britain, the US, Canada, Germany and New Zealand over the past two years after the imposition of Kong security law against conspiracy to collude with foreign forces.
The largest group is in Australia, where 305 have applied for refugee and humanitarian protection between June 2019 and May this year. Last July, right after the security law took effect, 34 Hong Kong passport holders sought asylum there, the highest number in a single month over that period.
According to SCMP, Britain has received 121 applications, with 35 in the first three months of this year. They include five Hongkongers aged under 18. Canada had 21 applicants for refugee protection as at the end of last year.
The US does not keep separate records for Hong Kong asylum seekers, but about 15 are estimated to have gone there since the unrest. Germany had three applicants, and New Zealand, "fewer than five", according to officials.
This comes as people have been fleeing Hong Kong by the thousands since the Chinese authorities imposed the draconian national security law to suppress dissent. Many people have taken the advantage of a UK residency rule that opened the doors to millions of people in Hong Kong or flown to other places such as Canada, Australia or Taiwan.
Some of the people who are facing charges related to the protests see escape attempts as their only way out. Over 10,000 protesters have been arrested and prosecutors have been pushing for extended prison sentences.
Furthermore, getting caught at sea can also carry consequences. In August 2020, China's coast guard intercepted a dozen other pro-democracy protesters making an escape attempt, landing them in a mainland jail before most were sent back to Hong Kong for trials.
Beijing was perturbed by violent anti-government protests in 2019 and the process will also further concentrate power in the hands of the ruling Communist Party and decimate the political hopes of the territory's already beleaguered opposition for years to come. (ANI)