Hong Kong Protesters to Seek Asylum in U.S.

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Last July, five young men boarded a recreational boat in a remote harbor in Hong Kong. They passed through waters patrolled by the Chinese authorities and headed east, across the South China Sea.

When they neared Taiwan, they cut off their motor, hoping to be rescued by the Taiwanese Coast Guard. They were in luck.

Now, after months in Taiwan, they intend to seek asylum in the United States, where they arrived at Kennedy International Airport in New York on Wednesday.

They are part of a trickle of political activists who have fled Hong Kong since China’s central government imposed a harsh national security law on the city in June, snuffing out many forms of political dissent, including the pro-democracy protests in which the five men had participated.

China has cast Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters as criminals, while the United States and other democracies have challenged China over its crackdown on the city’s liberties. The involvement of Taiwan, a self-governing island democracy that is claimed by China, only adds to the sensitivity.

Spokeswomen for the State Department and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services declined to comment on the case, citing privacy concerns. A press officer for the American Institute in Taiwan, which serves as the de facto American embassy there, also would not comment, nor would a spokesperson for Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council.

All five protesters, who range in age from 18 to 26, fled Hong Kong fearing that they would soon face imprisonment, and at least one had previously been arrested in connection with his role in the protests, Mr. Chu said.

The Trump administration’s move, in its final days, to grant entry to the men on humanitarian grounds stands in contrast to its dramatic curtailing of refugee quotas over the past four years. In December, legislation in Congress that would have made it easier for Hong Kong residents to gain refugee status was blocked by Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican.

A few years ago, the idea of political dissidents fleeing Hong Kong, a former British colony that reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, would have seemed unimaginable. Hong Kong’s more than 7 million people have one of the world’s highest per capita incomes and enjoy political liberties that are unknown in mainland China.

Author: desi123

Desi123.com is an online news portal that aims to provide the latest trendy news for Asians living in Asia and around the World.

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