WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Thursday granted temporary refuge to people fleeing China’s crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong.
Residents of Hong Kong who are in the U.S. and facing deportation will be allowed to remain for at least 18 more months because of what a White House statement called China’s move to “deny basic rights and freedoms.”
It comes as relations between the U.S. and China have deteriorated amid a trade war and mounting tensions over Chinese moves to curb political dissent in Hong Kong.
The Chinese government has sought to stifle opposition following protests there in 2019 against a proposed law allowing extraditions to mainland China. That has led to concern that the former British colony is losing the freedoms it was promised when it was handed over to Chinese control in 1997.
“Given the politically motivated arrests and trials, the silencing of the media, and the diminishing the space for elections and democratic opposition, we will continue to take steps in support of people in Hong Kong,” the White House said.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many people would be eligible for the deferral, which the Department of Homeland Security said would allow Hong Kong residents to work while they are in the U.S.