© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Exiled Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law holds a rally in Berlin
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong democracy activist Nathan Law said he was granted political asylum in the UK, where he arrived last July, after Beijing imposed a comprehensive national security law on his hometown that was heavily criticized by the West.
The move is sure to heighten tensions between London and Beijing as the UK opens its doors to potentially more than five million Hong Kong residents amid controversial security legislation.
“After several interviews in four months, the Home Office informed me that my asylum application was approved,” Law said late Wednesday on Twitter.
“The fact that I am being wanted under the national security law shows that I am facing severe political persecution and will probably not return to Hong Kong without risk.”
The UK pledged £ 43 million ($ 59 million) on Thursday to help them find jobs, homes and schools for millions to relocate.
Britain has accused China of several violations of an agreement after it returned the city to China in 1997. It says China’s security law and efforts to disqualify pro-democracy lawmakers have undermined the semi-autonomous city’s high level of autonomy.
Officials from Hong Kong and Beijing said the law was vital to fill gaps in national security defenses uncovered by months of, often violent, protests in 2019. China has repeatedly advised Western powers not to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs.
Great Britain has violated international law and interfered in Hong Kong’s judicial system, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian replied to a question about the granting of asylum.
“The British side should immediately correct its mistake and stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs,” he said at a daily meeting in Beijing on Thursday.
Hong Kongers became the fifth largest foreign investor in central London last August and have seen prices soar in some popular districts outside the UK capital.
London estimates that over 300,000 Hong Kong residents could emigrate over the next five years, and Bank of America (NYSE 🙂 expects Hong Kong residents moving to the UK could trigger $ 36 billion in capital outflows in 2021 .
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