The Hong Kong opposition feels threatened by the new Chinese security law. Activists have since sought refuge in several states. Germany is now granting asylum to a refugee for the first time since the Security Law was passed.
For the first time since the controversial Security Law for Hong Kong came into force, Germany has granted asylum to a refugee from the Chinese Special Administrative Region. This is according to the asylum statistics for September from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, which are available to the German Press Agency. The Hong Kong government had already asked Consul General Dieter Lamlé for an interview on Wednesday after initial reports about such a case.
According to figures from the Federal Office, a total of three decisions on asylum applications from citizens of the former British colony of Hong Kong were made in the first nine months of this year. Two were negative, one was decided positively in September. In addition, further cases of refugees from Hong Kong could be hidden in the statistics for Chinese citizens without special status. For all of China, including Hong Kong, asylum was granted in a total of 61 of 416 cases between January and September.
Already on Monday, the Hong Kong activist group Haven Assistance had announced on Facebook that a 22-year-old supporter of the protest movement had been granted political asylum in Germany. The student calls herself Elaine and, according to her own statements, already applied for asylum in Germany at the end of last year.
Since July 1, 1997, Hong Kong has been part of China again, but is now governed according to the principle of “one country, two systems”. The agreement of that time actually provides that Hong Kong will enjoy “a high degree of autonomy” and many freedoms for 50 years until 2047. The new security law, which was passed in June after months of mass protests, is considered the most far-reaching intervention in this autonomy to date and gives China’s state security far-reaching powers.
“Intervention in Internal Affairs”
As early as 2018, two prominent Hong Kong activists had been granted political asylum in Germany, which had led to protests by the Chinese leadership. As then, the government in Hong Kong again summoned the German Consul General for talks, this time with the Deputy Head of Government Matthew Cheung.
If the reports about the granted refugee status were true, this would be “decisively rejected,” it was subsequently stated in a statement. Cheung pointed out that foreign governments should not interfere in the internal affairs of Hong Kong and China. Granting asylum would send a false message to criminals that they could escape prosecution, it continued.
The confirmation of the granting of asylum could therefore now lead to further tensions between Germany and China. The German government had already reacted to the security law with sanctions. For example, an extradition agreement for criminals with Hong Kong was suspended and an export ban was imposed on goods that could be used by the police or other government authorities to suppress or monitor the population.
During a visit to Berlin in early September, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had forbidden any outside interference. He said that China’s actions in Hong Kong fell “into the category of China internal affairs”.