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Federal government announces help for Canadians in Hong Kong

Last Updated Nov 12, 2020 at 12:00 pm PDT

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Summary

Canada has announced plans to help Canadians living in Hong Kong

Feds' announcement of plans to help Canadians in Hong Kong comes amid Chinese clampdown on democracy in territory

Canada announces work permit designed to speed up PR process as part of measures to help young people in Hong Kong

OTTAWA – The Liberal government is creating a new measure for young people in Hong Kong: a work permit designed to speed up the process toward permanent residency in Canada.

“An opportunity to work, to study, to build that next chapter in their life,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Thursday of long-awaited plans to help people living in Hong Kong — including some 300,000 Canadians — amid the Chinese clampdown on democracy.

Mendicino says any Canadian citizens and permanent residents living in the territory can return to Canada at any time and Ottawa will expedite any documents they need.

“It’s about creating jobs. It’s about accelerating our economic recovery, and it’s about driving long-term prosperity,” Mendicino said Thursday of the new process.

To be eligible for the new measures, students and young people must have graduated from “recognized Canadian or overseas post-secondary learning institution in the last five years,” he explained.

“If approved, their spouse or partner, as well as children, will also be eligible to apply for a study or work permit.”

Hong Kong was supposed to operate under a “one-country, two-systems” framework after Britain handed its former colony over to Beijing in 1997 under an international agreement. However, human rights and pro-democracy advocates say Beijing’s new national security law is undermining freedom in Hong Kong.

 

The government is also slightly loosening asylum claim rules in the wake of the new National Security Law in Hong Kong, which has led to mass protests in China.

“A clear disregard for the basic law, and are having the consequential effect of eroding human rights,” Mendicino said.

Thursday’s announcement is sure to anger China, which has warned the Trudeau government not to intervene in Hong Kong.

Canada’s relations with China are at an all-time low because the People’s Republic has imprisoned two Canadian men, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, in what the Trudeau government has branded as coercive or hostage diplomacy.

Kovrig and Spavor were rounded up by Chinese authorities in December 2018, nine days after Canada arrested Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant.