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6 Aug, 2021 10:13

‘Shameless political manipulation’: China rebukes Biden's offer of a ‘safe haven’ in US for Hong Kongers

‘Shameless political manipulation’: China rebukes Biden's offer of a ‘safe haven’ in US for Hong Kongers

The US is trying to play the “Hong Kong card” to undermine Beijing and doesn’t really care about the people, China's foreign ministry has said, in response to US President Joe Biden's offer of a ‘safe haven’ for Hong Kongers.

On Thursday, Biden told the Department of Homeland Security to implement a “deferral of removal” for up to 18 months for thousands of Hong Kong residents currently staying in the US.

In a memo, the president accused China of assaulting Hong Kong's autonomy, of "undermining its remaining democratic processes and institutions", and of restricting academic freedom, and freedom of the press. “The US will not waver in our support of the people in Hong Kong," he pledged.

Biden’s offer of a ‘safe haven' exposes Washington’s “sinister intention” to play the “Hong Kong card” to contain the city’s development and to undermine China, the Hong Kong branch of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Friday.

However, the people in China and Hong Kong, in particular, see through this “shameless political manipulation” by the Americans and that’s why “it is doomed to fail,” it said.

The US isn’t standing with Hong Kong, but only with “a small group of anti-China troublemakers”, the ministry insisted.

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More than 100 activists and opposition politicians have been arrested under the Hong Kong National Security Law, introduced by Beijing in the self-governed city after a wave of protests in 2019. Back then, the people’s anger over a planned extradition bill that would allow China to secure rendition of Hong Kong individuals accused of crimes on the mainland grew into a wider movement, demanding democratic reforms and autonomy from China.

The controversial law, which criminalized secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces, faced international condemnation and was described by the critics as a Beijing’s tool to crackdown on dissent in the city.

The statement defended the National Security Law, insisting that it only targeted a limited number of perpetrators, who endangered national security, while allowing to “restore stability” in the city and contributing to its economic growth.

Hong Kong is an integral part of China in line with the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, the statement recalled, adding that Beijing will always oppose attempts by outside forces to interfere in its internal affairs.

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The city used to be a British colony before becoming a special administrative region of China in 1997. Earlier this year, London offered Hong Kongers new visas that provided them with a pass to UK citizenship. Britain said that it was fulfilling its historic and moral commitment to the people of Hong Kong, having seen that the National Security Law violated the agreement under which the territory was handed back to China. Beijing responded to the move by announcing that it will no longer recognize  the special British National Overseas (BNO) passport, owned by many in Hong Kong, as a travel document. 

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