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Antony Blinken says US should accept refugees fleeing Hong Kong amid draconian law

News Agencies | Updated on: 2 February 2021, 8:55 IST

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday (local time) lambasted China over its imposition of the draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong saying it acted "egregiously" to undermine the city.

Blinken, in an interview with With Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports, said that the US should accept people fleeing the crackdown in the region.

"I believe we should," the Secretary of State said when asked if the US should join the UK in opening its doors to refugees fleeing the political repression in Hong Kong, according to an official transcript released by the US Department of State.

"We've seen China act egregiously to undermine the very commitments it made during the handover of Hong Kong to - from Britain," he added."And we see people who are, again, in Hong Kong standing up for their own rights, the rights that they felt were guaranteed to them. And if they are being - if they're the victims of repression from Chinese authorities, we should do something to give them haven," Blinken said further.

The top US diplomat reiterated his predecessor Mike Pompeo's statement of China being a threat to the United States adding that Washington has strong alliances as compared to Beijing.

"We have to be able to approach China from a position of strength, not weakness. And that strength, I think, comes from having strong alliances, something China does not have; actually engaging in the world and showing up in these international institutions, because we when pull back, China fills in, and then they're the ones writing the rules and setting the norms of these institutions; standing up for our values when China is challenging them, including in Xinjiang against the Uyghurs or democracy in Hong Kong; making sure that our military is postured so that it can deter Chinese aggression; and investing in our own people so that they can fully compete," he said.

The US top diplomat's remarks come after China on Friday said it will stop recognising British National (Overseas) passports as travel and identification documents from Sunday and warned a further retaliation after British authorities launched a new visa scheme to provide Hong Kongers' a new route to UK citizenship.

The announcement was made by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a daily press briefing.

This comes hours after the British government announced a new scheme, under which people with British National (Overseas) status will be able to apply to live and work in the UK for up to five years and eventually seek citizenship.

BN (O) is a class of British nationality that was granted by voluntary registration to Hong Kong residents who had been British Dependent Territories citizens before the transfer of sovereignty to China in 1997.

The United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said China's imposition of the National Security Law in Hong Kong is a "clear and serious breach" of the Sino-British Joint Declaration contrary to international law.

This comes after the national security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong that criminalises any act of secession (breaking away from China), subversion (undermining the power or authority of the central government), terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison. It came into effect from July 1, 2020.


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First published: 2 February 2021, 8:55 IST