President Joe Biden has signed a memorandum extending temporary safe haven to Hong Kong residents in the United States amid China’s crackdown that has undermined democracy in the region. The memorandum defers removal for the next 18 months.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that the memorandum directs “the deferral of removal of certain Hong Kong residents who are present in the United States, giving them a temporary safe haven.”
Psaki said the memorandum “demonstrates President Biden’s strong support for people in Hong Kong in the face of ongoing repression by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and makes clear we will not stand idly by as the PRC breaks its promises to Hong Kong and to the international community.”
“Given the politically motivated arrests and trials, the silencing of the media, and the diminishing the space for elections and democratic opposition, we will continue to take steps in support of people in Hong Kong,” she added.
The political situation in Hong Kong has largely deteriorated since the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed the controversial Hong Kong national security law, which criminalizes any activity that could constitute a “threat” to national security.
“The Chinese authorities forced the law through without any accountability or transparency: it was passed just weeks after it was first announced, bypassing Hong Kong’s local legislature, and the text was kept secret from the public and allegedly even the Hong Kong government until after it was enacted,” as noted in a report from Amnesty International.
Thousands have fled political repression in Hong Kong since Beijing has cracked down on pro-democracy protesters and made sweeping arrests.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.