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Australia cannot guarantee residency for Hong Kongers, says minister

Australia cannot guarantee residency for Hong Kongers, says minister

DPA
Sydney
There is no guarantee that Hong Kongers will be granted permanent residency visas in Australia, acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said Sunday.
Tudge’s comments come days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia was suspending its extradition agreement with Hong Kong amid concerns about the new national security law imposed on the territory by Beijing.
Tudge told national broadcaster ABC that Australia could not guarantee residency for those who feared returning to Hong Kong.
“What we are saying is that people will have the opportunity to apply for permanent residency, but I mean, if there’s a serious security issue in relation to that person, they’ll be sent back,” Tudge told ABC’s Insiders programme.
“If there’s a character concern, they’ll be sent back.” He said thousands of Hong Kong citizens in Australia on student or work visas had been offered extensions of up to five years.
An estimated 10,500 students and 1,500 workers from Hong Kong are in Australia. They can apply for refugee settlement if they can prove they face persecution if they return to Hong Kong. Tudge said 137 had already applied for asylum.
Hong Kong’s new national security law, which targets secession, sedition and terrorism in the financial hub, has drawn criticism from many Western nations. Critics say Beijing has broken its promise to allow for certain freedoms in Hong Kong until 2047.
Morrison said Thursday that Hong Kongers who fear persecution at home could be offered safe haven visas and “a pathway to permanent residency” in Australia.
The Chinese embassy in Canberra accused Australia of “gross interference” in its affairs after Morrison’s announcement.
Tudge on Sunday said Australia was also keen to attract business talent from Hong Kong.
“What we’ve done is that we’ve offered particular visas for people to come here, and particularly the global talent who is residing there,” he said.
“And we’ve also signalled that we want to get some of the businesses who want to move locations to come to Australia as a great destination for them to set up shop.”

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