Home Travel n Tour US to allow visitors from Hong Kong to stay for 18 months

US to allow visitors from Hong Kong to stay for 18 months


Hong Kong residents believe China is undermining its rights and freedoms. President Joe Biden says thousands of Hong Kong residents will be offered a temporary “haven” in the US. Mr. Biden said that because China was violating Hong Kong’s freedoms, the US would allow visitors to stay for 18 months. Thousands of Hong Kong residents already in the US may benefit.

Following last year’s adoption of China’s security law for the territory, the UK has offered people from Hong Kong a path toward permanent residency. The law criminalizes what are deemed to be acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and conspiracy. Mr. Biden said there were “compelling foreign policy reasons” to allow Hong Kong visitors to stay.

He said China had been “undermining its remaining democratic processes and institutions, imposing limits on academic freedom, and cracking down on freedom of the press”. He pointed to the arrests of over 100 people, including activists and opposition politicians, under the new security regime.

Hong Kong

However, Liu Pengyu, the spokesman for China’s embassy in Washington, criticized the US government’s actions, saying, “disregard and distort facts, and grossly interfere in China’s internal affairs”.

But Maggie Shum, a researcher in the US, said many students had been left in limbo amid uncertainty about returning to Hong Kong and welcomed Thursday’s news. “I feel elated and welcome this Biden decision not to abandon us – the US did not abandon us,” she told Reuters news agency.

Samuel Chu of Washington-based Hong Kong Democracy Council, which campaigned for the move, says the group estimates it could affect some 100,000 people. “It is a significant number because, I think, it’s a pretty good chance that a large number of visitors would benefit from this,” he told the BBC.

“Partly also because the situation in Hong Kong has been unfolding pretty publicly, and you’ve seen people traveling and leaving Hong Kong in droves, not just to the US but other countries.” The US government says some 155,000 visitors arrived from Hong Kong in 2019, and 23,000 came in 2020.

Those who have serious criminal convictions will reportedly not be eligible to stay. The move is Mr. Biden’s latest action to combat what he says is an erosion of democracy in Hong Kong. In July, the US government warned firms about the risks of doing business in Hong Kong under the security law.

In January, the UK introduced a scheme allowing residents of the former British colony to come to the UK for five years and apply for permanent residency. It launched the visa after China imposed the security law. The British government estimates that 5.4 million Hong Kong residents are eligible for the scheme and expects 300,000 people to accept the offer in the first five years. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab welcomed Mr. Biden’s announcement as a “big-hearted decision”.


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