Why did U.S. Consulate General in HK refuse to allow 4 asylum seeks to enter yesterday?

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28th October 2020 – (Hong Kong) A total of 3 ex-members of ‘Studentlocalism’ have been arrested yesterday including Tony Chung Hon-lam (19), Yanni Loren Ho, 17 and William Chan Wai-yin, 16. Sources revealed that Tony Chung and Yanni Loren Ho were released on bail yesterday. The police did not amend the charges against Tony Chung and Yanni Loren Ho yesterday. The 19-year-old Chung was also arrested again yesterday for the same reasons as Yanni Loren Ho and Willliam Chan. Chung went to the US Consulate General in Hong Kong and Macau yesterday morning to seek political asylum. He was arrested by officers of the National Security Department at the coffee shop opposite.

A few hours after his arrest, another four Hong Kong residents requested to enter the US Consulate General to seek political asylum, but were unable to enter. Since the anti-extradition protests, the United States successively passed the Democratic Human Rights Act and the Hong Kong Autonomy Act and sanctioned 11 officials including Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Many demonstrators regarded the US government as an “international political saviour.”

Why this time the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong refused four Hong Kong citizens to seek political asylum?

Vice President of Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, Lau Siu-kai analysed that the actions of the United States were based on political considerations. If they offer political asylum to unknown social activists, U.S. will risk being requested by China to shut down its Consulate in Hong Kong and Macau. Earlier, after the United States asked China to close the consulate general in Houston, the situation has become tense in China. Finally, Beijing countered and closed the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu. If the issue of Hong Kong people seeking political asylum today becomes a situation where the United States consulate in Hong Kong and Macau will be closed, it is no small matter for the United States. The United States has played a very special role in the relationship between the Mainland and Hong Kong, and the Consulate in Hong Kong and Macau is an important base for the United States to operate in the Asia-Pacific region. The United States will never accept the outcome of forced closure.

According to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, refugees include those who have fled their country because of persecution for their political opinions and “and because of this fear they cannot or do not want to return.” When someone seeks asylum in another country, they have the right to submit an asylum application to confirm their refugee status and obtain legal protection, and the asylum seeker must prove that he “has a legitimate reason to fear persecution in his own country.”

Regarding the issue of “refugee” status, Lau pointed out that most Western countries will not easily accept Hong Kong people seeking political asylum. At present, there are only very few successful cases, which are special circumstances. This is because accepting an asylum application is equivalent to saying that the applicant’s government is at fault. If the United States is to allow the four people to enter the Consulate, it will clearly indicate that the Hong Kong government has “violated human rights and freedom.”

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