China has said it would take “corresponding measures” if Boris Johnson’s government pushes forward with its plan to give three million Hong Kong residents the chance to settle in the UK. The Chinese foreign ministry claimed the offer violated previous agreements.

As Beijing faces international condemnation for imposing a new security law on the city, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison suggested his government may follow the UK in offering visas to Hong Kong citizens.

It comes as the US House of Representatives has approved a bill that imposing sanctions on Chinese officials and any Hong Kong police units clashing with protesters. China’s foreign ministry warned of “strong countermeasures” against the US if the bill becomes law.


Mike Pence says China’s national security law is ‘a betrayal’

US vice president Mike Pence has told CNBC that China’s new national security law on Hong Kong is a betrayal of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

“The national security law that China passed and now is imposing on Hong Kong is a… it’s a betrayal of the international agreement that they signed, and ultimately it’s unacceptable to freedom-loving people around the world,” Mr Pence said on Thursday.


Hong Kong’s government has declared the slogan “Liberate HK, Revolution of Our Times’ as a potential violation of the new national security law, according to journalist Alvin Lum.


How many people from Hong Kong could be eligible for UK residency?

Earlier this week, the UK government said it would offer Hong Kong residents who hold British National Overseas (BNO) passports the chance to settle in the UK and eventually seek citizenships.

But how many people could end moving to the UK and how will the system be implemented?

Our reporter, Kate Ng, has the full story below:



Nandy calls for ‘comprehensive set of measures’ to protect Hong Kong

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy has said the UK must work towards developing a “comprehensive set of measures” to protect Hong Kong citizens.


Activists discussing Hong Kong ‘parliament-in-exile’, campaigner says

Hong Kong pro-democracy activists are discussing a plan to create an unofficial parliament-in-exile, campaigner Simon Cheng.

“A shadow parliament can send a very clear signal to Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities that democracy need not be at the mercy of Beijing,” he told Reuters in London. “We want to set up non-official civic groups that surely reflect the views of the Hong Kong people.”

He said that while the idea was still at an early stage, such a parliament-in-exile would support the people of Hong Kong and the pro-democracy movement there.

Cheng also predicted “hundreds of thousands” of people would come to take the opportunity to come to the UK after Boris Johnson offered millions of Hong Kong residents the path to British citizenship.

Mr Cheng, who said on Wednesday that the UK government had accepted his application for asylum, has alleged he was beaten and tortured in China.

He worked at Hong Kong’s British consulate for two years.

  Simon Cheng (Reuters)


No 10: Details of citizenship route will be set out ‘in coming months’

Downing Street is standing firm on the plan to offer Hong Kongers with British National (Overseas) status a path to British citizenship despite the prospect of retaliatory measures from Beijing.

“We were very clear in the action we would take if China imposed this law. We will now do exactly what we said we would do,” the Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said.

Final details of the scheme for BNO citizens will be set out by the Home Office “in the coming months”, the spokesman added.



New law ‘worse than the worst-case scenario predicted’

Hong Kong lawyer and academic Eric Cheung wrote on Facebook that the new security law was “worse than the worst-case scenario he had predicted”, according to a translation by the Hong Kong Free Press.

He said the text represented the spirit of China’s socialist legal system rather than Hong Kong’s independent judiciary, based on common law.

The academic also highlighted a clause in the new law that says it applies to anyone harming the interests of Hong Kong, regardless of where they are in the world or their nationality.

“All eight billion people in the world should read the Hong Kong national security law thoroughly, to avoid unwittingly breaking the law,” he said.


Britain will ‘bear all consequences’ if it pushes ahead with citizenship plan

Our Asia editor Adam Withnall has taken a closer look at today’s statement by China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.

Zhao told a daily briefing that Beijing reserved the right to respond against the UK if Boris Johnson’s pushed ahead with plans to offer 2.9 million Hong Kong citizens with British National Overseas status a route to citizenship.

Without specifying what this might entail, Zhao said that Britain would “bear all the consequences” of any moves China decides to take.

Read more here:


Security law threatens students in UK, says top Tory MP

Influential Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the House of Commons’ foreign affairs committee, has shared concerns that the new security could be applied to Hong Kong residents visiting or living in Britain – and could affect students in particular.

He warned it could have “direct implications on our own university sector and on freedom of speech within our own academic institutions”

Tugendhat said “Chinese students have already been influenced to silence debate and change outcomes here in the UK”.



New security law ‘turns Hong Kong into a Chinese police state’

The Hong Kong-based journalist Stuart Heaver thinks the new security law imposed on Hong Kong threatens reporting freedoms in the territory.

“Make no mistake: this new law sanctions a police state and outlaws anything that Beijing considers to be a threat to national security, which is often a euphemism for anything, or anyone, that the ruling Communist Party of China (CCP) disapproves of,” he writes.

“Thousands are hastily deleting their social media accounts and disbanding their advocacy groups.”

Read more here:


UK urged to halt exports of tear gas and arms

Campaigners are calling for a halt of exports of tear gas and arms to Hong Kong amid concerns that UK-made riot control equipment may have been used against pro-democracy demonstrators.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) demanded an investigation into whether UK-produced kit has been used in the brutal police crackdown on protests against the imposition of the new security law.

Information compiled by CAAT showed that the UK has licensed at last £9.5m worth of arms exports to Hong Kong since an earlier crackdown saw British-made tear gas used on pro-democracy campaigners in 2014.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has more details:


Hong Kong man reportedly detained after shouting ‘long live Liverpool’

A man in a Liverpool FC shirt shouting “long live Liverpool” was briefly detained by police in Hong Kong during protests against the new security law, according to local media.

The In-Media website reported that man was standing across the street from officers conducting stop-and-searches on a group of demonstrators when he made the chant and was detained – before being later released.

The man said he had only “felt the urge” to celebrate his team winning the Premier League, according to the report.



‘Some could become very careful what they write on Whatsapp and Wechat’

Hong Kongers working in the city’s finance industry have spoken about the potential impact of the new security law.

“I was on a call with Singapore colleagues this morning when one of them asked me about the law and its impact on Hong Kong,” an executive at a regional insurance company told Reuters (declining to be identified citing the sensitivity of the matter).

“I had just started when my boss tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to move on to business matters. Later, all our team members in Hong Kong were told to strictly refrain from sharing opinion on this on calls and social media.”

A corporate lawyer with an international law firm told the news agency that it could change the way in which people in the former British colony “communicate and correspond” from now on.

“I think some people could become very careful in what they write on Whatsapp and Wechat … as a firm we are not writing anything in any correspondence like that (related to the law) but it could become an issue for some.”


China threatens ‘countermeasures’ against US sanctions bill

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said no amount of pressure from external forces could “shake China’s determination and will to safeguard national sovereignty and Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.”

He urged the US to abide by international law and stop interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs, and not sign a sanction bill into law.

His comments came after the US House of Representatives on Wednesday joined the Senate in approving a bill to impose sanctions on groups that undermine the city’s autonomy or restrict freedoms promised to its residents.

If the bill becomes law, “China will definitely take strong countermeasures, and all consequences will be borne by the US side,” Zhao said at a daily briefing.

Zhao also claimed Britain had previously made a commitment not to grant British National (Overseas) holders the right to settle in the UK.

“All Hong Kong compatriots, including those holding British National Overseas passports, are Chinese citizens,” Zhao said. “The British have violated their own commitment by now allowing BNO passport holders the option of staying and naturalising in the UK.”


Can Britain afford to stand up to China over Hong Kong?

We’re expecting foreign secretary Dominic Raab to make a statement in the House of Commons later on the plan to offer almost three million residents with British National (Overseas) status a route to British citizenship.

Yet Raab has admitted little could be done by Britain to “coercively force” China if it tried to block Hong Kongers from coming to the UK. He told ITV last nigtht that “ultimately we need to be honest that we wouldn’t be able to force China to allow BN(O)s to come to the UK.”

Can the British government really afford stand up to China when there is so much at stake, economically? Our defence and security editor Kim Sengupta has taken a closer look.



Australia to follow UK lead with ‘opportunities’ for Hong Kongers

So what exactly has Australian prime minister Scott Morrison suggested about offering visas to Hong Kong residents? Morrison said the Australian government was “prepared to step up and provide support”.

Asked if Australia would consider offering safe haven to Hong Kong people, similar to Britain, he replied: “We are considering very actively the proposals that I asked to be brought forward several weeks ago and the final touches would be put on those and they’ll soon be considered by Cabinet to provide similar opportunities.”

More here on his remarks, and current relations between China and Australia:


Campaigners call for investigation into whether UK-made arms being used against protesters

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has called on the UK government to end all arms sales and training for the Hong Kong police – and demanded an investigation into whether UK-made arms are currently being used against protesters.

There have been images and widespread reports of tear gas and pepper spray being used against people protesting the new security law this week.

The campaign group claims the UK has licensed £9.5m worth of arms to Hong Kong since the pro-democracy protests in 2014. 

Last month The Independent revealed that the College of Policing – the professional body for police in England and Wales – has been working with the Hong Kong authorities to train its officers amid the protests.

In response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, the body refused to give any further detail on the support that was offered last year, citing an exemption over “international relations”.

Andrew Smith of CAAT said: “The images we have seen from Hong Kong have been appalling. The use of tear gas and rubber bullets must be condemned in the strongest terms. 

“There must be an immediate end to all arms sales and training for the Hong Kong authorities, and a firm assurances that sales will not be resumed once the repression is out of the headlines.”

 Protester reacts after she was hit with pepper spray used by police (AFP)


Arrested man ‘onboard a Cathay Pacific flight to London’

More now on the arrest of a 24-year-old man at Hong Kong’s airport early on Thursday on suspicion of stabbing an officer during protests against a new national security law.

The police had posted pictures on Twitter of an officer with a bleeding arm saying he was stabbed by “rioters holding sharp objects”. The suspects fled while bystanders offered no help, the police said. A police spokesman could not confirm whether he was leaving Hong Kong or working at the airport.

Local media, citing unnamed sources, said the suspect was onboard a Cathay Pacific flight to London due to depart around midnight. A witness said three police vehicles drove towards a gate as a Cathay Pacific plane was preparing to take off and around 10 riot police ran up the bridge to the aircraft.

The suspect held an expired British National Overseas passport, a special status created under British law in 1987 that specifically relates to Hong Kong and provides a route to citizenship, the source told local station Cable TV.



Japan watching situation with ‘great interest’

Japan is watching events in Hong Kong with “great interest”, its chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday.

Suga added that Japan’s close business ties with Hong Kong were based on Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” governance.

According to a report in The Japan Times, Tokyo is “caught in a dilemma” on the issue since it has been keen to improve ties with China.

The newspaper says Sino-Japanese relations have been steadily improving since both countries agreed to “shelve” territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.


Taiwan advises citizens to avoid Hong Kong after new law

Taiwan citizens should avoid unnecessary transits through or visits to Hong Kong, Macau or mainland China after the passing of a new national security law for Hong Kong, a senior Taiwan government official said on Thursday.

Taiwan’s de facto consulate in Hong Kong will continue to operate, Chiu Chui-Cheng, deputy head of Taiwan’s mainland affairs council, told reporters – describing the new law as “the most outrageous in history”.

The Taiwan government said it received more than 180 inquiries from people in Hong Kong on the first day of opening new office set up to help Hong Kongers.