Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law has announced that he had been granted asylum in Britain, after fleeing the semi-autonomous territory following the introduction of sweeping Chinese security laws.
The 27-year-old former Hong Kong legislator and student activist fled to the UK in July 2020 in the weeks after the National Security Law, opposed by pro-democracy protesters, was imposed. Law wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that he had been granted asylum in the UK after several interviews over four months.
“The fact that I am wanted under the National Security Law shows that I am exposed to severe political persecution and am unlikely to return to Hong Kong without risk,” he wrote. The activist highlighted the plight of other asylum seekers in the UK from Hong Kong who might not have the same weight of evidence behind their claims. “I hope that my case can help the Home Office understand more about the complicated situation in Hong Kong. “To free more protesters from Beijing’s authoritarian oppression, the Home Office could consider more comprehensive evidence,” he added.
Law’s fate and the fate of potentially millions of Hong Kong people who Britain has offered a route to escape China’s crackdown, has become a point of bitter diplomatic contention between Beijing and London, which ceded the former colonial territory in 1997. Britain has accused China of tearing up its promise to maintain key liberties in Hong Kong for 50 years after the handover.
China said earlier this year it will not recognise the British National (Overseas) passport for Hong Kong residents because of a new visa scheme introduced in January offering a pathway to full UK citizenship for those who want to leave the territory.
Beijing and London have in recent weeks also disagreed over Chinese sanctions against four UK entities and nine individuals including legislators that have spoken out in defence of China’s Uighur Muslim minority.
Last year, Britain protested about jail terms handed to three leading activists from the pro-democracy party Demosisto, which Law co-founded. The party disbanded on the same day China’s new security legislation was imposed in Hong Kong.
In exile, Law has continued to champion the cause of pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong on social media. Last month he hit out at mass trials of activists in Hong Kong saying that they showed that “the Chinese Communist party nakedly abuses its powers and uses the courts to demonstrate that power”.