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HK police arrest suspect at airport as UK offers path to citizenship

By China Daily Hong Kong, CNBC and CNN

Hong Kong –  Hong Kong police arrested a 24-year-old man at the city’s airport in the early hours of today (July 2) on suspicion of attacking and wounding an officer during anti-government protests on Wednesday.

Police posted pictures on Twitter on Wednesday of an officer with a bleeding arm saying he was stabbed by “rioters holding sharp objects”. The suspects fled while bystanders offered no help, police said.

Local media reported that the suspect was onboard a Cathay Pacific flight to London due to depart just before midnight when he was arrested.

According to an Oriental Daily News report quoting sources, the man was holding a one-way ticket and an expired British National (Overseas) passport. Police made the arrest after family members of the man, who lives in Wong Tai Sin, reported him to the police, the report said.

Cathay Pacific did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Despite repeated warnings, the protesters on Wednesday refused to disperse and so the police had to fire tear gas and water cannon. Seven police officers were injured while on duty, according to police statements.

Police said they arrested 370 people during the illegal protests, including six males and four females on suspicion of violating the newly enacted law on safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

In a statement, a Hong Kong government spokesman said that “some people possessed and waved flags and printed materials containing the words of ‘Hong Kong independence,’ and chanted slogans of ‘Hong Kong independence’,” CNN reported.

“These people are suspected of inciting or abetting others to commit secession,” the spokesman said. Such a charge could carry a term of life imprisonment, and a minimum 10 years behind bars for principal offenders, or three years for those who “actively participate” in the offense. One of those arrested was a 15-year-old girl.”

Tam Yiu-chung, the sole Hong Kong member of China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee, which drafted the security law, said that “the police will of course follow up on these cases to assess whether charges need to be made.”
He added that some people may have “intentionally challenged the law.”
“Also, it might be because they did not understand the content of the law,” Tam said. “We feel very sad that some youths and teenagers have violated the law. We really don’t want to see such cases.”
Of the 15-year-old, he added that “we hope we can help her so that she can have a better understanding of the law concerned and not violate the law again”
Authorities are likely to be prepared for those early test cases, as evidenced by the fact police were briefed ahead of time to arrest anyone promoting Hong Kong independence. While the size of the crowds made complete control difficult, police responded heavily to Wednesday’s protests, firing pepper spray at crowds, kettling protesters and using water cannon.

Meanwhile the UK is offering around 3 million Hong Kong residents a path to British citizenship after the new national security law was imposed in the city, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Wednesday, CNBC reported.

“The enactment and imposition of this national security law constitute a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament on Wednesday.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration signed by then Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher guarantees Hong Kong’s autonomy under the “one country, two systems” framework. The city was a British colony for over 150 years before being transferred back to China in 1997.

The new national security law is spurring concerns about excessive oversight from Beijing and eroding rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.

About 3 million Hong Kongers are eligible for British National (Overseas) passports. There were 357,156 BN(O) passport holders as of April 17.

The new measures extend the visa rights of BN(O) passport holders, allowing them to stay in the UK for five years with the ability to work or study. That’s far greater than the six months previously allowed.

After five years, the passport holders will be able to apply for settled status and citizenship, according to information on the UK government website.

“This is a special, bespoke, set of arrangements developed for the unique circumstances we face and in light of our historic commitment to the people of Hong Kong,” said Raab in Parliament.

“We want a positive relationship with China. But, we will not look the other way on Hong Kong, and we will not duck our historic responsibilities to its people,” he added.

The US, Australia and Taiwan are also looking into helping those who want to leave Hong Kong.

In the US, a bipartisan bill known as the “Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act” would grant Hong Kongers priority refugee status. Introduced in both chambers of Congress this week, the bill would enable those who fear political persecution from China to more quickly leave the city.

Australia’s federal cabinet will look at proposals on how to best help Hong Kongers looking to move Down Under, The Australian reported, citing prime minister Scott Morrison.

Taiwan on Wednesday set up an office to help resettle fleeing Hong Kongers.


Top: Protesters block traffic on King’s Road with metal railings near Tin Hau MTR station during an illegal assembly in Hong Kong, July 1, 2020. Photo: China Daily Hong Kong

Insert: In this photo taken in Hong Kong on June 3, 2020, Reese Tan, a 25-year old tutor, poses with his British National (Overseas), or BN(O), in his favorite part of the city and the place he would miss the most if he leaves, the bustling shopping and eating district of Mongkok. Photo: Anthony Wallace / AFP / Getty Images published by CNBC

First below: Protesters rallied against the new law in Hong Kong and police made several hundred arrests. Photo: AFP / Getty Images and published by BBC

Second below: Riot police detain a man after they cleared protesters taking part in a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020.. Photo: CNN



TNR staff
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