Australia to Offer 'Safe Haven' to Troubled Hong Kong Residents; China Says Back Off

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he will make the announcement after a final decision is made on the arrangements.

A day after hundreds of Hong Kong residents protesting against the controversial national security law imposed by China were arrested by the authorities, Australia said that it is actively considering providing safe haven to Hong Kongers. Earlier, the United Kingdom had tabled a similar offer to the troubled Hong Kong residents.

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On Wednesday, the Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 protesters for breaking laws undermining Beijing's authority.

Australia Worried About Future of Hong Kong Residents

Stating that the recent developments in Hong Kong were 'very concerning', Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Australia's position was consistent with other like-minded countries, including Britain, the US and Canada.

Claiming that he was 'very actively' mulling proposals to provide support to Hong Kong residents worried about their future, Morrison said: "There are proposals that I asked to be brought forward several weeks ago and the final touches will be put on those and they'll soon be considered by cabinet to provide similar opportunities."

"We think that's important and very consistent with who we are as a people and very consistent practically with the views that we have expressed," he went on to add.

Morrison said that he will make the announcement after a final decision is made on the arrangements. "Are we prepared to step up and provide support? The answer is yes," he said.

UK Accuses China of Violating Sino-British Joint Declaration

Blasting China for the turn of events in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, which handed control of Hong Kong to China in 1997, said Beijing's act was a clear and serious breach of Sino-British joint declaration signed after the handover, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.

Hours after the arrest of the protesters, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he would offer eligible people in Hong Kong a path to citizenship, allowing them to settle in the United Kingdom.

"We made it clear that if China continued down this path, we would introduce a new route for those with British national overseas status to enter the UK, granting them limited leave to remain with the ability to live and work in the UK, and thereafter to apply for citizenship; and that is precisely what we will do now," the UK Prime Minister said while referring to the Declaration.

China Warns Australia to Stop Meddling

However, Australia's latest move did not go well with the Chinese authorities, who asked them to stop meddling in its affairs. Australia, along with 26 other countries, issued a joint statement regarding human rights violations in Hong Kong and the western province of Xinjiang by the Chinese authorities, reported the outlet.

Stating that the eyes of the world will remain on Hong Kong, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said: "Australia is troubled by the law's implications for Hong Kong's judicial independence, and on the rights and freedoms enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong, both of which underpin the city's success."

Replying to the statement, a Chinese Embassy spokesperson said the laws would benefit Hong Kong. "Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs. We hope the Australian side take an objective and rational view on the legislation, abide by international law and basic norms of international relations, and stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs," the spokesperson was quoted by ABC News.