The Australian Prime Minister said today that the government is considering giving refuge to Hong Kong residents who wish to leave the former British colony due to the new national security law imposed by Beijing.
Scott Morrison considered the situation in Hong Kong "very worrying" and announced that his government was "very actively" considering welcoming the citizens of that special Chinese administrative region into the country.
"It is important and very consistent with who we are," he said, revealing a position that could worsen already strained relations with China.
The British government announced on Wednesday that it will extend immigration rights to Hong Kong residents, justifying the decision on the grounds that the new law is a "clear violation" of the territory's autonomy.
Enacted on Tuesday by Chinese President Xi Jinping, after being adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Assembly, the new law allows punishing four types of crimes against state security: subversive activities, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces that endanger national security.
The legislation allows punishing separatist, "terrorist" activities, subversion or even foreign interference in Hong Kong, the scene of violent pro-democracy protests in 2019, which resulted in more than nine thousand arrests.
Crimes against national security are now subject to life imprisonment in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under an agreement that guaranteed the territory 50 years of autonomy and freedoms unknown to the rest of the country, under the “One country, two systems” principle.
As with Macau since 1999, Hong Kong has agreed a 50-year period with a high degree of autonomy, at the executive, legislative and judicial level, with the central Chinese government being responsible for foreign relations and defense.