Australia May Offer Safe Haven to Hong Kong Residents, Morrison Says

Australia’s Prime Minister said Thursday his government was considering an offer of safe haven to Hong Kong residents threatened by China’s move to impose a tough national security law on the semi-autonomous territory.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Cabinet would soon consider options “to provide similar opportunities” as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered people in Hong Kong.

“When we have made a final decision on those arrangements, then I’ll make the announcements”, Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

Britain is extending residency rights for up to 3 million Hong Kongers eligible for British National Overseas passports, allowing them to live and work in the United Kingdom for five years.

Morrison said similar action would be “important, very consistent with who we are as a people and very consistent practically with the views that we’ve expressed”.

Australia could potentially offer Hong Kong residents temporary protection visas that allow refugees to live in the country for up to three years.

China bypassed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to pass the sweeping legislation without public consultation this week.

An offer of safe haven to Hong Kong residents would further strain relations between Australia and its most important trading partner, China.

Also on Thursday, Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds told a security think-tank that “Australia remains committed to the careful management of our relationship with China”.

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