Canada has planned to evacuate hundreds of thousands of its citizens from Hong Kong if necessary, but officials warn that there is not much they can do about pro-democracy activists seeking refuge. from the Chinese government.
Jeff Nankivell, the consul general of Canada to Hong Kong and Macao, told a parliamentary committee that the federal government has drafted a plan to support nearly 300,000 Canadians living in the territory if the security situation worsens.
“We have blueprints in place and we have the resources available and identified to respond to a wide range of situations, including situations where some Large numbers of Canadians are needed.
“The likelihood of that kind of extreme scenario is low right now, but it̵7;s our job to plan the toughest scenarios.”
The potential need for evacuation plans has been underscored by China’s decision to enact a controversial security measure over the summer. The law that critics say criminalized activism and dissent in Hong Kong, suppressed pro-democracy movements and had a cold impact on the media. education and politics.
Nankivell’s testimony is likely to escalate tensions between China and Canada. After Ottawa expressed support for activists in Hong Kong, China’s Ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, said any “interference in China’s domestic affairs” could cause a danger to the “good health and safety” of Canadian citizens living on the territory.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau quickly condemned the ambassador’s remarks and accused China of “forced diplomatic behavior”.
Canada has a large-scale evacuation plan, but Nankivell said his staff cannot help asylum seekers who are seeking protection at the consulate.
“Canada’s global policy, like most other countries, is that our diplomatic missions, including consulates, do not accept asylum applications,” he said. from people who live on their territory. tried to apply for asylum.
Contrary to Canada’s evacuation plan, the UK has said it will extend immigration rights to Hong Kong residents holding British National passports (BNO). There are currently 300,000 BNO passport holders – those born before the handover of British territory in 1997 – but up to 3 million are eligible.
China has criticized this plan. The State Department recently asked the UK to “immediately correct its mistakes” and to cancel the offer, according to Reuters.
The new visa will allow entry for five years, as opposed to the current six, and an application will be opened on January 31st. The UK has yet to say what measures are taken to support the 30,000. its citizens living in Hong Kong.