Biden Lets Hong Kong Residents Stay in U.S., Cites Crackdown
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden said Hong Kong residents in the U.S. can remain in the country for as long as 18 months, citing Beijing’s crackdown on political freedoms in the territory.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many people Biden’s order would affect. The vast majority of Hong Kong residents in the U.S. are expected to be eligible for relief, with only narrow legal exceptions.
“Offering safe haven for Hong Kong residents who have been deprived of their guaranteed freedoms in Hong Kong furthers United States interests in the region,” Biden said Thursday in his memo. “The United States will not waver in our support of people in Hong Kong.”
The president’s directive also makes Hong Kong residents who receive temporary safe haven eligible to seek work permits. They must have continuously resided in the U.S. as of Thursday in order to be shielded from removal. People who have been convicted of crimes, are subject to extradition or are not allowed in the country under U.S. law are not eligible for the new protection.
Beijing blasted Biden’s move, saying the U.S. was interfering in its internal affairs. The U.S. is ignoring facts and public opinion in Hong Kong by “pretentiously providing safe haven” to the territory’s residents, a spokesperson for China’s commissioner in Hong Kong said in a statement.
Biden’s memo is the latest in a series of measures his administration has taken to respond what it says is China’s crackdown on democracy and the rule of law in the former British colony.
Last month, the U.S. sanctioned Chinese officials in Hong Kong and issued an advisory warning companies and investors of the risks of doing business there, citing Beijing’s efforts to exert more control over the financial hub.
“In the face of PRC and Hong Kong authorities’ attempts to stifle democratic aspirations, we will take action,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement. “Today we send a clear message that the United States resolutely stands with people in Hong Kong.”
China responded to last month’s U.S. actions by sanctioning a number of American individuals, including former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
A key panel in the U.S. House of Representatives advanced a bill last month that would make it easier for Hong Kong residents to seek temporary protected or refugee status.
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