The United States today said it was “very concerned” about a new immigration law in Hong Kong. The law will make it possible for people to leave the city, raising concerns about “exit barriers” already in place on China’s mainland. For more than a year, Beijing has been strengthening its hold on the former British colony.
Hong Kong’s so-called non-opposition city-state parliament passed the law on Wednesday. The Director of Immigration is empowered to prohibit anyone from boarding a flight to Hong Kong without responsibility and without appeal.
“We are aware of this legislation and express our deep concern about its content, potential use, lack of control and accountability,” the State Department spokesman said in a statement. “We have long been concerned that China is issuing exit bans on an arbitrary basis, including by US citizens. We are deeply concerned about the imposition of similar measures by Hong Kong authorities.”
Hong Kong says the law does not apply to people leaving the territory, but aims to prevent people from entering the area illegally. But the law nowhere says it is only for incoming flights or illegal immigrants. Lawyers are concerned that this could be used against anyone who wants to leave Hong Kong.
On Wednesday evening, the Hong Kong government said it was preparing amendments to the law, which would only apply to incoming flights. The British government also expressed concern.
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