As the situation in Hong Kong continues to deteriorate, the Canadian government has accelerated the pace of approving refugee claims from Hong Kong residents, and at least 15 people have been approved so far. In addition, Canada is prepared to evacuate people from Hong Kong if the situation becomes critical.
About 50 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists have already submitted refugee applications to Canada. “The New Hong Kong Cultural Council has been actively assisting these applicants, and one of its directors, Uncle Hung, said that 14 of their cases have been granted refugee status so far, and another person has been granted asylum with the help of other groups.
Uncle Hung said that more applications should be expected to be approved in the near future: “It was difficult at first to assist these people because the immigration officials and immigration judges were not really that knowledgeable about the situation in Hong Kong. But after the National Security Act came into effect last July and a series of arrests by Chinese and Hong Kong authorities, officials knew the seriousness of the situation, so they accelerated the processing and expect six to seven applicants to be granted refugee asylum soon as well.”
A document written by Canadian intelligence and titled “The National Security Act and Its Impact on Hong Kong Immigrants to Canada” shows that Ottawa began discussing how the implementation of the National Security Act would affect Hong Kong immigrants to Canada and the 300,000 Canadians in Hong Kong long before the Act came into force last June. The document mentions that the Department of Foreign Affairs has developed a Hong Kong evacuation plan that will require assistance in evacuating Canadian citizens from Hong Kong in the event that Chinese authorities no longer recognize dual citizenship and thus do not allow Hong Kong residents to leave the territory.
Federal MP Chiu Kam-wing, who immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong as a young man, said he is very concerned about the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong and hopes that Ottawa’s policy toward China will not hesitate to retreat: “As the Chinese Communist Party continues to tighten the only space available to Hong Kong, and as those members of the Legislative Council are disqualified, I pray that our friends in Hong Kong will be given more autonomy and that they will be able to implement the rights granted to them by the Basic Law. I pray that our friends in Hong Kong will get more autonomy and implement what the Basic Law gives them: Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong, a high degree of autonomy, and no change for 50 years.”
The Federal New Democratic Party’s MP for Immigration and Refugee Affairs, Michelle Kwan, said that in November last year, the Minister of Immigration announced a program to assist Hong Kong people, which is aimed at young people who have recently graduated. However, the vast majority of victims of the Jan. 6 arrests in Hong Kong did not meet the program’s requirements, which means Ottawa needs to do more, such as providing travel waivers to asylum seekers as soon as possible so that they do not have to enter Canada because of the epidemic blockade.