Condemnation, fast track of work permits, emergency evacuation plan
In a move by Beijing to further exert its authority over Hong Kong, it granted powers to the city legislature to remove legislators deemed not sufficiently loyal to Beijing.
Pro-China chief executive of the legislature Carrie Lam then ordered the ouster four opposition members on Wednesday. This resulted in all 15 pro-democracy members resigning en-masse from the 70 seat legislature. She later claimed the expulsion was in accordance with the law, and insisted that the Hong Kong legislature would not become merely a rubber stamp for Beijing directives.
Before leaving, one member unfurled large banners criticizing Carrie Lam.
In a statement China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office condemned the resignations with a stern warning to both the opposition members and to other countries saying the walkout was a challenge to the central government authority adding, “We would like to warn these opposition members that if they want to use this to encourage radical resistance and beg for intervention from outside forces to drag Hong Kong into chaos again, that is a wrong calculation”.
Several western countries have condemned the Chinese move. The 27 members of the EU called for an “immediate reinstatement of the Legislative council members”.
Canada’s foreign affairs minister Francois Philippe Champagne said the move is a further assault on Hong Kong’s freedom’s which were guaranteed for 50 years in the 1984 agreement of ‘one country-two systems’ as a condition of the return of the former British colony to China.
Expressing disappointment at the expulsions, Champagne said in a statement yesterday “This decision further narrows Hong Kong’s autonomy and the space for freedom of expression and public participation in governance in Hong Kong”, adding, “This action clearly demonstrates a concerning disregard for Hong Kong’s Basic Law”
In October, reacting to Canada granting asylum to two pro-democracy dissidents, Chinese ambassador to Canada made some worrisome remarks saying “If the Canadian side really cares about the stability and the prosperity in Hong Kong, and really cares about the good health and safety of those 300,000 Canadian passport-holders in Hong Kong, and the large number of Canadian companies operating in Hong Kong SAR, you should support those efforts to fight violent crimes”.
New entry programmes to Canada, emergency evacuation plan
Canada’s Minister of Immigration today announced a new programme to attract potential immigrants from Hong Kong by making it easier to get work permits toward permanent resident status. He also said that anyone charged with an offence under China’s new security laws would not be prohibited from applying to come to Canada nor anyone who has been charged or convicted of crimes which would not be considered crimes in Canada. He says the programme is to attract young professionals and skilled individuals
Other reports indicate that Canada has plans for a mass evacuation of citizens from Hong Kong if necessary. There are an estimated 300,000 residents with Canadian passports. Jeff Nankivell, Canada’s consul general in Hong Kong and Macau told a Canadian Senate committee, “We have detailed plans in place, and we have resources available and identified to cover a range of situations up to and including a situation where the urgent departure of a large number of Canadians would be necessary.
He added that the eventuality of such a need is very low, but that plans are made for ‘extreme’ eventualities.
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada: Nov 12/20: Press release
- CBC: RP Jones: Nov 11/20: Canada condemns removal of pro-democracy Hong Kong legislators.
- Thomson-Reuters (CBC) Nov 11/20: Hong Kong opposition stages final protest in assembly before mass resignation
- Canadian Press (CBC) JP Tasker: Ottawa announces new Hong Kong immigration options as committee warned Uighurs face ‘genocide’
- SCMP:S Lau: Nov 12/20: EU accuses China of dealing ‘severe blow’ to Hong Kong’s freedom and seeks immediate reinstatement of lawmakers
- CTV: S Ho: Nov 4/20: Canada prepared for mass evacuation of citizens in Hong Kong if necessary
- RCI:: Oct 16/20: China fires back at Canada, again