HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong democracy activist Nathan Law said he has been granted political asylum in Britain, where he arrived last July after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on his hometown that has been heavily criticized by the West.
The move will certainly increase tensions between London and Beijing as Britain opens its doors to potentially more than five million Hong Kong residents in the wake of controversial security legislation.
“After several interviews over four months, the Department of the Interior has informed me that my asylum application has been approved,” Law said late on Twitter on Wednesday.
“The fact that I am wanted under the National Security Act shows that I have been exposed to serious political persecution and that I am unlikely to return to Hong Kong without risk.”
Britain launched sweeteners to lure residents of Hong Kong and pledged £ 43 million ($ 59 million) on Thursday to help them find jobs, homes and schools under the initiative that will enable millions of people to resettle.
Britain has accused China of multiple violations of an agreement that returned the semi-autonomous city to China in 1997. It says China’s security law and measures to disqualify pro-democracy lawmakers have undermined Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.
Officials in Hong Kong and Beijing have said the law is vital in plugging gaps in national security defenses exposed by months of, often violent, protests in 2019. China has repeatedly told Western powers not to act. interfering in the business of Hong Kong.
Hong Kongers have become the fifth largest foreign investors in central London since August last year and have driven up prices in a number of popular neighborhoods outside the British capital.
London estimates that more than 300,000 Hong Kong residents could emigrate in the next five years, and Bank of America expects Hong Kong residents moving to Britain could cause a capital outflow of $ 36 billion by 2021.
Reporting by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Stephen Coates