President Joe Biden has extended special treatment for US-based Hongkongers, citing ‘compelling foreign policy reasons’.
The Chinese foreign ministry’s office in Hong Kong has hit out at the United Status for extending its “safe haven” status for Hongkongers seeking refuge, saying Washington should stop using the city to contain China.
Hong Kong’s government released a similar statement hours later on Friday, branding the US move as “hegemonic bullying”.
It came after US President Joe Biden on Thursday extended for 24 months the deferred enforced departure, or DED, status for Hongkongers based in the United States, citing “compelling foreign policy reasons”.
The status means that Hongkongers who are not US residents but are currently in the country are not subject to deportation for that period of time and can apply for a US work permit. The special treatment was introduced in a 2021 memorandum in response to Beijing’s crackdown on opposition lawmakers and activists after it imposed a national security law in Hong Kong in 2020. The DED status was set to expire on February 5.
According to the US Department of Homeland Security, there were 3,860 US-based Hongkongers eligible for the DED designation in March 2021.
In a statement on Friday, the Commissioner’s Office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong said the status extension aimed to stir up chaos and cause disruption in the city by providing refuge for “anti-China forces who have left Hong Kong”. It also said US criticism of law and order and press freedom in Hong Kong was fabricated.
“The Chinese government is resolute to oppose external interference in Hong Kong affairs, to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, to fully and faithfully implement the policy of ‘one country, two systems’, and to protect Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability,” the statement said.
“We strongly urge the US side to stop its wishful thinking of using Hong Kong to contain China and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs.”
The Hong Kong government also slammed Washington in its statement.
“We firmly oppose the US government’s baseless smearing in the so-called memorandum against the Hong Kong national security law,” a Hong Kong government spokesman was quoted as saying.
“The US government clearly stated that its latest actions are in its ‘foreign policy interest’ without any attempt to disguise its motives, demonstrating sinister intentions and hegemonic bullying,” he said.
“The [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region] government urges the US
government to immediately stop any acts against the basic norms
governing international relations, and immediately stop interfering in
the affairs of the HKSAR.”
Gregory May, US consul general for Hong Kong and Macau, speaks during a CSIS event on Wednesday.
On Thursday, both the foreign ministry’s office and the Hong Kong government accused US Consul General Gregory May of “maliciously abusing Hong Kong’s national security law and the interpretation by NPC Standing Committee”.
They were referring to remarks made by May about a ruling that gave Hong Kong’s leader the power to decide whether a defendant in a national security trial can use a foreign lawyer.
Speaking via video link at a Centre for Strategic and International Studies event on Wednesday, May said Beijing’s interpretation of the national security law “could further undermine the independence of Hong Kong’s judiciary system by expanding the Hong Kong executive branch authority to make decisions affecting cases without judicial oversight”.