A bipartisan group of legislators in Washington, DC, have reintroduced a invoice to make it simpler for Hong Kongers fearing persecution within the Chinese language-controlled metropolis to safe refugee standing in the US.

The 12 senators, led by Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bob Menendez, stated on Tuesday that the invoice was a response to the nationwide safety regulation that China’s parliament imposed on Hong Kong, punishing something Beijing deems secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with as much as life in jail.

The safety laws was enacted in June final 12 months, following months of generally violent pro-democracy protests within the semi-autonomous metropolis.

Since then, greater than 100 folks have been arrested over safety offences, whereas dozens of outstanding activists and politicians have fled the town, looking for asylum in international locations and territories together with Taiwan, Germany and the UK.

In a joint assertion, the US senators stated the proposed Hong Kong Secure Harbor Act would “guarantee these Hong Kongers who peacefully protested Beijing’s corrupt justice system, and have a well-founded worry of persecution” had been eligible for processing as refugees in Hong Kong or a 3rd nation.

Asylum seekers from Hong Kong wouldn’t be topic to a numerical limitation, they added.

‘Lifeboat for Hongkongers’

The proposed regulation would additionally make it simpler for dissidents to hunt asylum by waiving provisions that make suspected intent to immigrate or a legal file disqualifying components for non-immigrant visas.

Moreover, it could make Hong Kongers who’ve their residency revoked eligible for refugee standing as victims of political persecution.

“The US should do all it may well to help these Hong Kongers who’ve courageously stood as much as defend the town they love from the CCP’s persecution and open our doorways to them,” Rubio stated, referring to the Chinese language Communist Get together.

Menendez stated the goal was “to reiterate to the Chinese language Communist Get together that the US stands foursquare with the folks of Hong Kong” and to point out they might not “fall by means of the cracks of our damaged immigration system”.

The invoice was reintroduced as a result of a earlier model expired when a brand new Senate was seated final month.

Hong Kong Watch, a UK-based marketing campaign group, welcomed the transfer in a Twitter put up.

“We hope the USA will quickly be part of the UK, Canada and Australia in providing a lifeboat for Hong Kongers in want of a lifeline out of the town,” the group stated.

Hong Kong was previously a British colony and the UK launched a brand new visa scheme final month that can enable sure Hong Kong residents to use for British citizenship after 5 years within the nation. London predicts as many as 322,000 folks and their households might take up the provide over 5 years.

A Hong Kong authorities spokesman stated issues in regards to the erosion of freedoms had been “completely unsubstantiated” and that the safety regulation had stopped chaos.

“Folks’s choices to stay in or depart Hong Kong, or wherever for that matter, are based mostly on many components together with job scenario, education, enterprise and funding alternatives or private/household causes,” he advised Reuters information company.

Migration to Canada

Australia and Canada additionally introduced particular immigration measures for Hong Kong residents final 12 months.

Canadian cities similar to Vancouver and Toronto, specifically, have turn out to be a magnet for Hong Kong residents looking for to flee China’s tightening grip, in accordance with a report by Reuters.

Some 300,000 Hong Kongers have already got Canadian citizenship, from when many households moved there forward of the town’s return from British to Chinese language rule in 1997.

“Staying in Hong Kong is just not an possibility any extra,” stated Maria Legislation, a 39-year-old flight attendant, who moved to Vancouver final 12 months along with her two daughters forward of her husband.

“I’d slightly have a free future for my daughters as an alternative of making a living whereas they need to maintain their mouths shut.”

It’s onerous to trace precisely what number of Hong Kongers are shifting to Canada as many can journey freely between the 2 locations, and Canada’s immigration authorities say new visa functions from the town rose greater than 20 % to 10,819 in 2020.

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