HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong has protested President Joe Biden’s two-year extension of a program that protects residents of the semi-autonomous Chinese city who live in the United States from deportation, accusing Washington of “demonstrating sinister intentions and hegemonic bullying”.
An unidentified government spokesman was quoted on Friday as saying the United States “recklessly” muddied Hong Kong’s national security law, imposed on the city by Beijing in 2020 as part of a sweeping crackdown on the pro-democracy movement. At least 150 opposition politicians, activists and protesters have been taken into custody since the law went into effect by the Chinese legislator, while an unknown number of others have fled overseas.
Biden first authorized the program, deferred forced departure for some Hong Kong citizens, in August 2021 for 18 months. It was due to expire on February 5, but was extended until January 2025.
“The US government has clearly stated that its latest actions are in its ‘foreign policy interest’ without any attempt to disguise its motives, demonstrating sinister intentions and hegemonic bullying,” the Hong Kong spokesman said in a statement. published on the official government website.
“The United States has many national security laws, but it chooses to continue to arbitrarily defame” the national security law, the spokesman said.
The decision to provide a temporary safe haven was a response to the law and other measures that tightened Beijing’s absolute control and curtailed rights promised when the former British colony was handed back to China in 1997.
“With this action, we are demonstrating once again President Biden’s strong support for the people of Hong Kong in the face of increasing repression by the (People’s Republic of China),” the White House National Security Council said in a statement Thursday. .
“We continue to strongly oppose (China’s) use of its national security law to deny the people of Hong Kong basic human rights and freedoms, undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy, and destroy remaining democratic processes and institutions of Hong Kong,” the statement said. .
Hong Kong’s spokesman denied any political bias in the prosecution of those wanted under the law, many of whom had taken part in the push for an expanded democracy and months of anti-government protests in 2019.
“All law enforcement actions taken by Hong Kong law enforcement are based on evidence, strictly according to the law and the acts of the persons, institutions or organizations concerned, and have nothing to do with their position politics, background or occupation,” the spokesman said.
“The US government’s remarks about rights and freedoms in Hong Kong are totally unfounded,” the spokesman added.