Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Lu has announced that he was granted asylum in the United Kingdom after fleeing the semi-autonomous region after the introduction of comprehensive Chinese security laws.
The former Hong Kong lawmaker and 27-year-old student activist fled to the UK in July 2020 in the weeks following the imposition of the National Security Act, which was opposed by pro-democracy protesters.
Luo tweeted on Wednesday that he had been granted asylum in the UK after several interviews over a period of four months.
“The fact that I am wanted under the National Security Act shows that I am subject to severe political persecution and it is unlikely that I will return to Hong Kong in safety,” he wrote.
The activist highlighted the plight of other British asylum seekers from Hong Kong who may not have the same weight of evidence behind their claims.
“I hope my case will help the Home Office to understand more about the complex situation in Hong Kong.
“To free more protesters from tyrannical repression in Beijing, the Ministry of Interior can examine more complete evidence,” he added.
The UK is attracting Hong Kong residents with a new box
Sites are ramping up to attract Hong Kong residents, and on Thursday the United Kingdom pledged 43 million pounds ($ 59 million) to help them find work, a home and school as part of an initiative that enables millions of people to move.
The UK has accused China of multiple violations of an agreement under which it returned the city to China in 1997. It says the Chinese Security Act and moves to exclude pro-democracy lawmakers undermined a high degree of autonomy for the semi-autonomous city.
Officials in Hong Kong and Beijing said the law is necessary to fill gaps in national security defenses exposed by months of often violent protests in 2019. China has repeatedly called on Western powers to stop interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs.
In response to a question about granting asylum, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the UK had violated international law and interfered with the judicial system in Hong Kong.
“The British side should correct its mistake immediately and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs,” he said at a daily press conference in Beijing on Thursday.
Hong Kong residents have become the fifth largest foreign investor in Central London as of last August, driving up prices in some popular areas outside the British capital.
London estimates that more than 300,000 Hong Kong residents could migrate over the next five years, and Bank of America predicts that Hong Kong residents moving to Britain could lead to $ 36 billion in capital outflows in 2021.
The escape route
Lu’s fate and that of millions of Hong Kong residents, who offered the UK their way to escape Chinese persecution, became a point of bitter diplomatic disagreement.
China said earlier this year that it would not recognize a British (foreign) passport for Hong Kong residents due to a new visa regime introduced in January that provides a pathway to full British citizenship for those wishing to leave the territory.
Beijing and London have also clashed in recent weeks over Chinese sanctions against four British entities and nine individuals, including lawmakers who have spoken out in defense of China’s Uyghur minority.
Last year, the United Kingdom protested prison sentences against three prominent activists of the Democratic Party, which Luo co-founded.
The party was dissolved on the same day that China’s new security legislation was imposed on Hong Kong.
In exile, Luo continued to champion the cause of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy groups on social media.
Last month, he criticized the mass trials of activists in Hong Kong, saying they showed that “the Chinese Communist Party is misusing its bare powers and using the courts to prove its authority.”