The Australian government says it will proffer about 10,000 Hong Kong passport holders recently living in Australia, a chance to apply for permanent residence once their current visas becomes invalid.
Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of the Australian government believes China‘s imposition of a new tough national security law on the semi-autonomous territory means pro-democracy supporters may face political persecution.
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the acting immigration minister, Alan Tudge told Australian Broadcasting Corporation television on Sunday, “that many Hong Kong passport holders may be looking for other destinations to go to and hence why we have put forward our additional visa options for them.”
In order to procure permanent residency, applicants would still have to pass “the national security test, the character test and the like”, Mr Tudge said.
Mr Tudge also said, “So it’s not automatic. But it’s certainly an easier footstep to permanent residency and of course once you’re a permanent resident, there’s then a pathway to citizenship there. If people are truly persecuted and they can prove that case, then they can apply for one of our humanitarian visas in any case.”
Mr Morrison declared last week that Australia had interrupted its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and extended visas for Hong Kong residents from two to five years.
The move comes after China bypassed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to authorize the sweeping security legislation without public consultation. Critics view it as a further deterioration of freedoms promised to the former British colony, in response to last year’s massive rallies calling for greater democracy and more police obligations.
The national security law forbids what Beijing views as terrorist, secessionist or subversive activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the law, law enforcement now have been sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants, and other internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in desecration of the legislation.