The Federal Government announced the suspension of the extradition agreement, and allowances for a five year visa extension for Hong Kong citizens in Australia with permanent residency pathways.
As national security laws in Hong Kong tighten, many Hong Kongers here in WA are grateful for the Government’s help in ensuring they have a safe place to live.
In his only on video interview, Sunny Cheng, from Association of Hong Kongers in WA, explained the new national security laws were created to suppress their right to freedom of speech and freedom of protests.
He said Hong Kong community in WA are fearful of returning to their home country, and urge the Australian Government to consider guaranteed permanent residency.
“We would be very grateful if we had a guarantee of permanent residency, but I believe this a diplomatic matter in which we cannot demand the Australian government to do anything for us,”
“As far as I know the statement only says it’s a pathway to permanent residency, but there’s not a guarantee,”
Mr Cheng said they will still need to earn their permanent residencies.
Political expert, Dr Ian Cook said a guarantee of permanent residency would intensify the strained relationship between Australia and China.
“It’s not going to be an easy thing for the Australian government to do, but I think it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
Mr Cheng explained many Hong Kong citizens will stay in Australia, with considerations to encourage those still in Hong Kong to make the move here.
However he said leaving is not an easy option or an easy way to solve the problem, as financial or family barriers impact their decisions.
Leaving Hong Kong would allow them to bring their skills and knowledge to Australia, boosting skilled migration in exchange for safe residency.
Dr Cook, believes many students will uptake the 5 year visa extension, as going back to Hong Kong would be a very difficult thing to do at this time of uncertainty.
“We know the Chinese government is active in Australia and in Hong Kong, so I think if I was in their positions i’d just stay pretty quiet, and wait to see what happens,”
“The moves the Chinese Government has made are quite different than earlier iterations; the messages are clear, there will be more surveillance and less tolerance for dissent,”
“I think there’s many students who will find going back to Hong Kong a very difficult thing to do, and I think they will respond to that change in social environment,” he commented.