UK could offer ‘path to citizenship’ for Hong Kong’s British passport holders

Canada may well have to prepare for a return to Canada of Canadian expatriates, whether of Hong Kong or other ancestry, as well as a likely increase in immigration demand as the situation continues to deteriorate as it appears unlikely China will change course:

The UK could offer British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong a path to UK citizenship if China does not suspend plans for a security law in the territory, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says.

It comes after China’s parliament backed proposal that would make it a crime to undermine Beijing’s authority.

There are fears the legislation could end Hong Kong’s unique status.

China said it reserved the right to take “countermeasures” against the UK.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the UK and China had agreed that holders of British National (Overseas) – or BNO – passport should not enjoy UK residency.

“All such BNO passport holders are Chinese nationals and if the UK insists on changing this practice it will not only violate its own stance but also international law,” he added.

There are 300,000 BNO passport holders in Hong Kong who have the right to visit the UK for up to six months without a visa.

Mr Raab’s statement came after the UK, US, Australia and Canada issued joint condemnation of Beijing’s plan, saying imposing the security law would undermine the “one country, two systems” framework agreed before Hong Kong was handed over from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

The framework guaranteed Hong Kong some autonomy and afforded rights and freedoms that do not exist in mainland China.

China has rejected foreign criticism of the proposed law, which could be in force as early as the end of June.

Li Zhanshu, chairman of the parliamentary committee that will now draft the law, said it was “in line with the fundamental interests of all Chinese people, including Hong Kong compatriots”.

What did Raab say?

British National (Overseas) passports were issued to people in Hong Kong by the UK before the transfer of the territory to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

Announcing the possible change in policy, Mr Raab said the six-month limit on stays in the UK for BNO holders would be scrapped.

“If China continues down this path and implements this national security legislation, we will remove that six month limit and allow those BNO passport holders to come to the UK and to apply to work and study for extendable periods of 12 months and that will itself provide a pathway to future citizenship,” he said.

The BBC’s diplomatic correspondent James Landale says that in Beijing might not mind if some pro-democracy campaigners escape to the UK, but the flight of talented wealth creators would be of concern.

Some MPs want the UK to go further and offer automatic citizenship. Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, said BNO holders should have an automatic right to live and work in the UK.

The government has in the past rejected calls to give BNO holders in Hong Kong full citizenship.

Last year more than 100,000 people in Hong Kong signed a petition calling for full rights. The government responded by saying that only UK citizens and certain Commonwealth citizens had the right of abode in the UK and cited a 2007 review which said giving BNO holders full citizenship would be a breach of the agreement under which the UK handed Hong Kong back to China.

However in 1972 the UK offered asylum to some 30,000 Ugandan Asians with British Overseas passports after the then-military ruler Idi Amin ordered about 60,000 Asians to leave. At the time some MPs said India should take responsibility for the refugees, but Prime Minister Edward Heath said the UK had a duty to accept them.

What other reaction has there been?

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy earlier said the UK had to be more robust with Beijing.

Referring to the security law, she told the BBC: “This is the latest in a series of attempts by China to start to erode the joint declaration which Britain co-signed with the Chinese government when we handed over Hong Kong, and protected its special status.”

“We want to see the UK government really step up now,” she said.

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK should bring together a coalition of countries to avoid a tragedy in the territory.

He told the BBC: “This is definitely the most dangerous period there has ever been in terms of that agreement.

“With our unique legal situation, Britain does have a responsibility now to pull together that international coalition and to do what we can to protect the people of Hong Kong.”

On Thursday Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “We are deeply concerned about China’s legislation related to national security in Hong Kong.

“We have been very clear that the security legislation risks undermining the principle of one country, two systems.

“We are in close contact with our international partners on this and the Foreign Secretary spoke to US Secretary [Mike] Pompeo last night.”

He added: “The steps taken by the Chinese government place the Joint Declaration under direct threat and do undermine Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.”

On Wednesday, Mr Pompeo said developments in Hong Kong meant it could no longer be considered to have “a high degree of autonomy” from mainland China.

This could lead to Hong Kong being treated the same as mainland China under US law, which would have major implications for its trade hub status.

Source: UK could offer ‘path to citizenship’ for Hong Kong’s British passport holders

Freeland mum on whether Hong Kong asylum seekers will be granted refuge as bigger wave predicted

Hard to see why these claims would not be accepted by the IRB:

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, asked about dozens of asylum claims made by Hong Kong protesters in Canada, praised the rich contribution immigrants from this former British colony have made to this country but declined to indicate whether Ottawa would grant the applicants refuge.

Ms. Freeland told media Monday that while she can’t comment on specific asylum claims, which she said need to be adjudicated “very carefully and very thoughtfully,” Canadians agree that migrants from Hong Kong have been a boon for this country.

“Canada has benefited hugely from the immigration of people from Hong Kong to Canada. They contribute tremendously to our society and I think all of us are very glad that so many people from Hong Kong have chosen to make their home and their lives here,” Ms. Freeland said.

As the Globe and Mail first reported Monday, 46 Hong Kong citizens – many of whom took part in the massive demonstrations that began last year as China tightened its grip on the Asian city – are seeking asylum in Canada, citing harassment and brutality at the hands of police and fear of unjust prosecution.

This may only be the start of a bigger wave of asylum seekers, experts say.

Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian diplomat, and Richard Kurland, an immigration lawyer and immigration policy analyst with extensive experience in dealing with Asian migration, both say these cases are likely the beginning of a surge in refugee claims from Hong Kong as political turmoil there continues.

The 46 would-be refugees from Hong Kong applied for asylum claims between Jan 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020. The claims, which are all pending, were received at airports, Canada Border Security Agency bureaus and Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada offices (IRCC) across the country. Many of those claiming asylum in Canada face charges in Hong Kong in connection with the protests.

Wenran Jiang, an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, said Canada should proceed cautiously. “If Ottawa officially encourages and offers political asylum to protesters in Hong Kong, even [if] some of them clearly broke the law by being violent, Beijing is likely to interpret such a move as interfering in China’s domestic affairs, leading to adding more chill to an already cold-bilateral relationship.”

Canada’s relations within China deteriorated significantly in late 2018 after Ottawa arrested a Chinese high-tech executive on a U.S. extradition request and Beijing, in what was widely seen as retaliation, locked up two Canadians – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor.

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, who sits on the House of Commons Canada-China committee, said there are valid reasons for granting asylum to pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong. He said he hopes Canada doesn’t turn away these claimants for fear of offending China.

“The adjudication of asylum claims is an independent process and certainly determination should never be influenced by politics or fears of political retaliation,” he said. “We should absolutely be accepting asylum claims on their merit and … based on what I have heard about these claims there is a strong case to be made for their merit given the human rights abuses that we know of in Hong Kong.”

Mr. Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, agrees that Beijing would be displeased if Canada were to grant asylum to Hong Kong pro-democracy advocates, but he also says they merit refuge.

“Given what is happening in Hong Kong and the fact that China is encroaching more and more on the rights of Hong Kong citizens …. clearly these people have a legitimate [reason] to think that their rights will not be respected,” he said.

Mr. Saint-Jacques said he expects there will be a large influx of people coming from Hong Kong in the months ahead, including many of the 300,000 residents of the Asian city who hold Canadian passports.

“I think these people would make a good contribution [to Canada] but the big dilemma for the federal government is that this is happening at the time when we need China’s goodwill to supply medical equipment we are desperate for,” he said.

Mr. Kurland said he thinks the 46 asylum claims may be the beginning of a rise in refugee applicants from Hong Kong.

“There may be legs to this,” he said. “Planning for a sudden climb in Hong Kong refugee claim numbers is prudent.”

Today, as many as 500,000 Canadians of Hong Kong descent live in Canada, according to Hong Kong Watch.

Source: Freeland mum on whether Hong Kong asylum seekers will be granted refuge as bigger wave predicted

Can we talk? Bridging campus divides over Hong Kong

Interesting UBC initiative:

Canada-China relations are bleak, to put it mildly. The diplomatic tensions have extended to Chinese communities in Vancouver, but is there hope on the horizon?

Our research shows promising solutions are already emerging.

Global power dynamics are said to be shifting towards the east.

But domestically, the People’s Republic of China, or PRC, has been confronting mass civil unrest in Hong Kong while facing international scrutiny for the government’s “re-education” centres for Muslims in Xinjiang province.

Meanwhile, Canadian media has been criticized for propagating Western-centric rhetoric, often misleading the public and unfairly polarizing contentious issues.

Some news outlets have reported a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment in the wake of escalating bilateral tensions. These concerns have been heightened in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

These challenges continue to affect people living in Canada, including students at the University of British Columbia.

Divisive politics and polarized ideologies are fuelling an atmosphere of reproachful disengagement and stereotyping within the diverse ethnic Chinese communities on this particular campus and in the region.

Similar news reports coming out of Canadian universities suggest this issue is not isolated to UBC’s campus.

Student voices: The Hong Kong conflict

To understand this issue more completely, we interviewed UBC students and alumni. As researchers, we engaged with students from Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. Our findingshighlight the diverse range of perspectives within the diasporic community on UBC’s campus, and draws attention to a student-led initiative facilitating dialogue in times of political tension and increasing polarization.

“I love my country, but I don’t agree with being extremely patriotic,” said Jessica, a UBC alumnus. “[Chinese students are] disagreeing with Hong Kong students, but that doesn’t mean they’re any more Chinese for it.”

Jessica explained how the conflict has affected her life here in Canada. Originally from mainland China, she moved to Vancouver close to 10 years ago to study at UBC. She’s always held liberal views, and yet, regardless of her beliefs and opinions, she feels targeted in Canadian society as an ethnically Chinese individual while scrutinized by some Chinese nationals for holding more liberal views.

“Someone basically told me, if you don’t come, you’re not Chinese,” said Jessica, referring to a pro-China protest held on UBC’s campus during the 2014 umbrella movement.

Zhang Wei, a graduate student at UBC, can relate; he said his identity as a Chinese citizen makes his pro-democracy ideology problematic within his social circle.

“Talking about Hong Kong is complex for me because I genuinely support the pro-democracy movement. I don’t agree with the way the Chinese government has been abusing human rights, especially in the last six years since [Chinese President] Xi Jingping took power.”

Peter, an undergraduate student and Hong Kong native, added:

“We can have different aspects to our identity, but I don’t think we should tie ourselves to government ideology. Is it Hong Kong rejecting China, or is it Hong Kong rejecting the government and the PRC style of policy and rhetoric?”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong native and undergraduate student Danielle said it’s not about political disagreement, it’s about a complete lack of rights.

“It’s so frustrating, I am standing up for a basic fundamental right, but people think I am somehow destroying the society. Yes, I am radical in a way. I stand up for what I believe in, for my rights in society, but that doesn’t mean I hate mainlanders. I recognize where their thoughts and values come from. It’s really hard because it’s not about the facts and the communication, it’s the value system and the structural system that has defined our identities from a very young age.”

Calvin, another undergraduate student at UBC, believes rejecting China and rejecting the government are one and the same, suggesting the Hong Kong government has failed to educate its constituents on the history and cultural values of China:

“There’s definitely a lot of tension between mainlanders and Hong Kongers. Most people just take what the western media says about protests, which is mostly negative towards China. China isn’t as bad as its portrayed. I’ve lived most of my life in China, and I don’t feel like my free speech has been challenged.”

Hua Dialogue: Tackling difficult conversations

The Hong Kong protests illustrate how such a divisive movement abroad can sow tensions among communities here in Canada. Easing those tensions isn’t easy. However, learning how to effectively engage in difficult conversations might be a good place to start.

The student-led Hua Dialogue at UBC provides a platform for people from different communities to exchange ideas, increase awareness and discuss contentious issues. Moderators facilitate dialogue by indirectly discussing controversial subject matter through a neutral lens. One of their most recent conversationsdebated the role of media as an influential tool in polarizing opinions.

“Hua Dialogue is a way to challenge stereotypes,” a member of the Hua Executive team said in an interview. “You start to understand where people are coming from and what their viewpoints mean to them.”

Improving the China-Canada diplomatic relationship is fraught with hurdles, but it’s not impossible. At a minimum, we must understand the root cause of the problem from multiple vantage points if there is any chance of repair, both within Canadian communities and internationally.

It is a process that begins by learning how to question our biases and assumptions, while learning how to be comfortable with disagreement and ambiguity; a goal the Hua Dialogue team aims to achieve in every meeting and with every disagreement.

“It was heartbreaking to see growing segregation within Chinese communities, so we wanted to contribute to a space that provides room for growth for people from all types of backgrounds,” added another member of the Hua Executive team.

“Learning about individual experiences, and how they might influence an individual’s thoughts and values, is essential to understanding ourselves and processing our own experiences.”

Source: Can we talk? Bridging campus divides over Hong Kong

From India to US, a citizenship crisis is burning across the world

Dispiriting reading:

Across the world, there are fires burning and they are not only climate-change induced or climate threatening. The concept of who is a citizen of a nation and what are their rights has become a burning topic.

Under President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilians who are Amazonian Indians are increasingly under threat. In Bolivia, the fall of leader Evo Morales has disenfranchised indigenous Bolivians. Many living under US President Donald Trump are worried about their lives and the well-being of their families, and fear deportation despite being an integral part of American socioeconomics.

As Brexit looms, there is trepidation among many Europeans who have made Britain their home. The Roma in many parts of Europe continue to face persecution from their governments.

There are upheavals in the middle economies of the world too, with millions in Hong Kong and tens of millions in India facing an uncertain future. The unfulfilled obligations in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Hong Kong government’s increasing coordination with Beijing has unsettled many citizens of the special administrative region.

In India, the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has decided to implement a two-pronged strategy which threatens the country’s secular ethos. This government’s amendment of a 1955 citizenship act grants citizenship to refugees from neighbouring countries belonging to religions other than Islam. This legislation has been amended in the past to limit citizenship to those having at least one Indian parent and, later, to the parent not being an illegal immigrant.

Simultaneously, there is a plan to conduct a biblically inspired National Register of Citizens which will be the arbiter on the citizenship of each Indian. Though the implementation of both or either is perceived as targeting Muslims, the collateral damage will be in the millions because many people do not have, or have insufficient, documents to prove their citizenship.

Source: From India to US, a citizenship crisis is burning across the world

B.C. schools caught up in Hong Kong-China dispute


A battle for public opinion over China and the protests in Hong Kong is playing out at schools in British Columbia.

Last week, supporters of greater democratic freedoms in Hong Kong set up an information booth at an annual professional development conference attended by hundreds of social studies teachers in the province. At the event, activists with the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, a non-governmental organization, handed out information kits to educators.

The pamphlets, which organizers hoped would reach mainland Chinese students, draw attention to the Tiananmen Square killings in 1989 as well as information about the Hong Kong protests, criticizing China’s increasing suppression of the city’s freedoms.

“We are not against China, we are against the communist regime,” says one flyer.

The campaign took place days after a teacher at Steveston-London Secondary School in Richmond, just south of Vancouver, showed her Mandarin class students trailers for a patriotic Chinese film celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The students were given a list of questions to discuss the trailers, but the assignment sparked complaints from parents that the trailers were pro-China propaganda and the school asked the teacher to withdraw the assignment. The principal sent a letter to parents saying the teacher intended to use the trailers to show students a historical event or cultural activity in China and the assignment was for “oral practice only.”

The two events were not linked, but are both examples of heightened tensions in B.C. around Hong Kong’s struggle for greater democratic rights from China – an inflammatory subject in the sizable ex-pat community in Vancouver. The tensions spilled out in demonstrations on Vancouver street corners this summer, with pro-Hong Kong activists squaring off against pro-Beijing demonstrators. Scuffles over the destruction of pro-Hong Kong signs have also been videotaped and posted to social media.

According to Greg Neumann, vice-president of the B.C. Social Studies Teachers Association, 46 organizations, including Amnesty International and the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, set up booths on Friday to hand out materials to the province’s educators.

“We would not accept any organization that promotes any sort of illegal activity, or hatred in any form toward any group, especially those which are marginalized. We will not censor the messages of those promoting peace, justice, love, democracy, or any of the key values we have in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Mr. Neumann said in an e-mail.

He added it is up to the teachers attending the conference to judge for themselves the usefulness and appropriateness of the resources provided by the exhibitors.

Prof. Wanda Cassidy, director of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Education, Law and Society, said the topic of the materials being offered to teachers by the pro-Hong Kong society fits with social studies education.

“Social studies education encourages debate and discussion about all sorts of current local and world topics and teachers generally introduce students to a variety of perspectives on any given controversial topic,” she wrote in an e-mail.

“This might include examining different sorts of materials and messages that various groups convey. This fosters critical thinking, a main goal of social studies.”

Mabel Tung, chair of the pro-democracy society, said her group has been spreading the history of Tiananmen Square protests and massacre for years and providing tools and resources for teachers, but last week’s campaign was their first attempt to promote information about Hong Kong protests to B.C. educators.

“We want to tell the message to all Canadians to stand up for Hong Kong, to stand for the Hong Kong people, to fight for democracy,” she said. “Whatever is happening in Hong Kong, it may be happening anywhere in the world.”

One flyer distributed to teachers listed several reasons why many Hong Kongers are protesting, and why they fear Hong Kong being governed by the Chinese Communist Party.

“Because the Hong Kong government and the Chinese Communist Party is eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy: Communist infiltration of Hong Kong legislature; suppressing journalistic freedoms and free speech …” the flyer says.

Ms. Tung said her group hopes teachers can help reach students from mainland China with what she said was the correct information about the protests, such as that the movement isn’t demanding independence.

Officials with the Chinese consulate in Vancouver objected to the pamphlet campaign, saying it’s an effort by agitators from a foreign country trying to interfere in Hong Kong affairs, which they consider China’s domestic affairs.

“We think this should also be brought to the Canadian authorities’ attention and should be stopped from happening again. Furthermore, the indicated behavior should be condemned as it has nothing to do with freedom of expression but purely attempts to provoke political dispute by using public platform,” the statement reads.

When asked for comment, a spokesman with the Ministry of Education provided a statement noting that B.C. boards of education are responsible for choosing the resources that are used in their local schools.

Ken Tung, former chair of social service organization SUCCESS and a volunteer for the pro-democracy group, said activists also discussed modern China with participants at the teachers’ event.

“People need those backgrounds to talk about our international relationship – Sino-Canada relationship,” he said.

“The students definitely need to understand the international relationship, international trade, [and] how we work with Canadian values with those countries.”

Source: handed out information kits

Hong Kong democracy advocates angry after Ottawa-funded group buys ad backing China’s side

Understandably so:

A Chinese Canadian group that has received more than $130,000 in federal funding published a newspaper advertisement that condemned democracy protesters in Hong Kong and closely mirrored Beijing’s stance on unrest in the city.

Critics of the regime say they’re appalled that Canadian taxpayers are backing an organization that would pay to intervene on China’s side in the Hong Kong turmoil, likely at the behest of Chinese officials.

But it’s not the only recent example of federal funding linked to activities that support Beijing, as the two countries remain locked in a tense diplomatic standoff.

The ad placed by the “non-political” Council of Newcomer Organizations appeared weeks before a festival co-organized by China’s consulate general in Toronto, designed in part to celebrate the 70 th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

Our government is using taxpayers’ money to enable CCP influence and infiltration into our society and politics

Heritage Canada gave a multiculturalism grant of $62,000 to last month’s “Dragon Festival” through the event’s other organizer, the Canadian Association of Chinese Performing Arts.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government invited the heads of both the newcomer council — which was founded by Liberal MP Geng Tan — and the performing arts group to attend this week’s anniversary celebrations in Beijing.

Council executive chairman Zhu Jiang was quoted as saying he wept as he witnessed the military parade through Tiananmen Square Tuesday, realizing how much he “loved the motherland.”

“Our taxpayers’ money should have never been used to fund such organizations and activities,” said Ivy Li, a spokeswoman for the group Canadian Friends of Hong Kong. “By doing so, our government is using taxpayers’ money to enable CCP (Chinese Communist Party) influence and infiltration into our society and politics. This is a total betrayal of Canadian voters.”

It is “very troubling” that Ottawa helped pay for an event — the Dragon Festival — that marked a totalitarian state’s anniversary, added Cheuk Kwan of the Toronto Association for Democracy in China. The consulate “should be funding the whole thing, and then they can make whatever speech they want,” he said.

Heritage Canada, the main funder of the newcomer council, was unable to comment by deadline.

Neither the newcomer council nor Dragon Festival organizers could be reached for comment.

Critics say the incidents are just the latest examples of China’s long soft-power reach into Canadian society, with the added wrinkle of financial support from Ottawa.

Beijing has reportedly poured increasing resources into such efforts in recent years, the influence campaigns spearheaded by a party branch called the United Front Work Department (which reportedly invited Zhu to the anniversary gala). Its actions have come under newfound scrutiny in Canada as the feud with China unfolds.

The arrest in January of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou under an extradition treaty with the U.S. touched off an angry response from Beijing. China imprisoned two Canadians on ill-defined espionage charges, abruptly increased a Canadian’s drug-trafficking sentence to death from 15 years in jail, and imposed trade barriers on billions in Canadian agricultural imports.

The Council of Newcomer Organizations placed its ad in the Chinese Canadian Times — a free, Chinese-language newspaper that claims a “vast distribution network across Ontario” — in early August.

At that point, the Hong Kong demonstrations had been mostly peaceful, bringing a million or more people to the streets some days to oppose a now-defunct extradition law, decry alleged police brutality and call for more democracy.

The council’s ad dismissed the protests as a foreign-incited assault on the city’s stability, much as the strife has been characterized by China itself.

“Recently, certain self-serving political actors who do not hesitate to collude with foreign anti-Chinese powers, luring young extremist activists to be their cannon fodder, have continuously violated the peace of Hong Kong,” it said in part.

Heritage Canada said it has funded the council to the tune of $99,760 over the past several years. Employment and Social Development Canada granted it $38,000 in 2016.

The council’s own website — which describes the group as non-political — suggests an orientation toward China.

Much of the site is devoted to sports events, essay contests and other activities for local young people. But one of five sections in the English version – headed “legislation” – lists summaries of several Chinese laws, including one outlining restrictions on religious activities by foreigners. And there are several articles about “roots-seeking” trips for youth to China, organized by Beijing’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, part of the United Front.

Last month’s Dragon Festival outside Toronto’s City Hall involved booths and performances highlighting Chinese arts, food and culture.

But at its launch, one master of ceremonies said in Mandarin it was also an early celebration of “the 70th birthday of our motherland.” In his speech, Consul General Han Tao said the festival should help increase understanding and friendship between peoples, and then referenced the 70 th anniversary on Oct. 1 and China’s rise from a “poor and weak” nation to the world’s second-largest economy.

A consulate press release on the festival said in Chinese it would include events to “celebrate the (ancestral) homeland” on the occasion of the anniversary.

Source: Hong Kong democracy advocates angry after Ottawa-funded group buys ad backing China’s side

Thousands of Canadians in Hong Kong can vote. So we polled them

Meaningless clickbait polling given methodology. Only reliable data in article is the number of expats who have registered to vote:

Within the context of political unrest in the city and new rules for expat voting for this election, new polling by Mainstreet Research for iPolitics suggests Conservative support is strong among Canadians living in Hong Kong.

In a first for the polling firm, Mainstreet surveyed Canadians who live abroad on which federal party they would vote for in this election.

The English-language poll was conducted between Sept. 23 and Oct. 1 using the method of “river sampling,” which draws on respondents to take a survey based on advertisements placed online. It received responses from 640 Canadian citizens, 18 years of age or older, living in Hong Kong.

Among leaning and decided voters in the poll, 57 per cent of respondents said they support Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals received the support of 23 per cent of respondents while Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party was backed by 10.8 per cent.

Jagmeet Singh’s NDP received six per cent support, while three per cent of respondents said they backed Elizabeth May’s Greens.

Mainstreet cautioned that no margin of error can be associated with non-probability sampling, where individuals in a population are not given an equal chance of being selected to participate in the poll. The survey is nevertheless intended to represent the adult population of Canadians residing in Hong Kong.

Elections Canada’s figures show 2,015 Canadians have registered to vote in Hong Kong as of Sept. 29.

Roughly 300,000 Canadians reside in the city — making it the site of Canada’s second largest diaspora after the United States, according to figures reported by the Toronto Star.

Many Canadians in Hong Kong have family roots in the city. There is also a strong number of Canadians working for multinational businesses in the Asian financial hub.

Quito Maggi, president and CEO of Mainstreet, said his interest in polling Hong Kong stemmed from efforts by a pro-Conservative group in the city to register voters. He said online river sampling allowed Mainstreet to target the region.

“While I have no way of knowing if the sample is representative, it’s still very interesting as a measurement,” Maggi said.

iPolitics spoke to organizers of the group, called Canadian Conservatives in Hong Kong, who said the political situation and how federal parties are reacting is a top-of-mind issue for Canadians in the city.

Hong Kong has seen months of pro-democracy demonstrations that have posed a serious challenge to its pro-Beijing government and China’s tightening grip on the semi-autonomous city’s affairs. These gatherings have often seen violence. On Tuesday, a teenage protester was shot in the chest by police — the first such use of live ammunition on a demonstrator.

The organizers of the Conservative group, which isn’t affiliated with the federal party, said votes from abroad can be influential if they are tallied in battleground ridings.

A Supreme Court ruling in January struck down a law banning expats who have not lived in Canada for more than five years from voting, effectively guaranteeing Canadians residing abroad voting rights.

In total, 38,401 Canadians abroad have signed up to vote in the federal election as of Sept. 29, exceeding the prediction of 30,000 made by the agency.

Source: Thousands of Canadians in Hong Kong can vote. So we polled them

Amid Hong Kong’s unrest, a pro-Conservative group seeks to rally expat voters

More on CPC outreach in Hong Kong:

Amid political turbulence rocking Hong Kong, a pro-Conservative group is seeking to get out the expat vote in the city where an estimated 300,000 Canadians reside.

The recently-formed Canadian Conservatives in Hong Kong held two voter registration events at a bar in the city on Sept. 7 and 8, including on a day when pro-democracy protests shut down nearby streets. The group had also done online outreach in both English and Cantonese and drawn on the support of volunteers.

Organizers of the group, Canadians Brett Stephenson and Barrett Bingley, also enlisted the help of former foreign affairs minister John Baird for their two events as its special guest. The gatherings were advertised on the Conservative Party’s website but the group is unaffiliated.

For months, Hong Kong has seen large demonstrations that have posed a challenge to mainland China’s tightening grip on the semi-autonomous city. On Tuesday, during protests coinciding with China’s National Day, a teenage protester was shot in the chest by police.

Bingley, a senior director at The Economist Group by day, said political unrest in the city, as well as new liberalized voting rules for expats, are drawing their attention toward Canadian politics.

“It has to do with the election coming while there is this massive unrest happening in Hong Kong and people are looking to find a leader and a party who is going to stand up for them,” Bingley said in a phone interview last week.

“This year is not only when Canadians abroad are able to vote. There is a great desire by Hong Kong people to vote in the Canadian election this time.”

Amid that heightened interest, Bingley said their room-packed events were able to help register about 250 people. It was not only Conservatives attending but other Canadians wanting to vote. The Canadian Club in Hong Kong also hosted its own voter sign-up event on Sept. 20, with more than 200 people gathering.

The Supreme Court ruled in January that Canadians who have lived abroad for more than five years can vote.

Elections Canada’s figures show 1,588 Canadian voters have registered in Hong Kong as of Sept. 22. Voter registration abroad has now exceeded 31,000.

Canadians in Hong Kong consists of many Cantonese speakers with family in the city, as well as those working for multinational businesses.

Stephenson, a director at the Asia Business Trade Association working on Asia-Pacific trade, said Canadians who attended the events brought up issues including foreign policy, immigration and business concerns.

But the top issue was Hong Kong’s political situation and how federal parties will approach it.

Canadian Conservatives in Hong Kong’s logo. Photo courtesy of the group.

Stephenson believes the Tories are more inclined to support Hong Kong and the protection of the ‘one country, two systems’ model envisioned in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. That treaty spelled out, upon return to China’s rule in 1997, civil freedoms and a degree political independence for the city — something protesters say Beijing has moved to erode.

Stephenson said Scheer is the only federal leader to have “spoken up very forcefully” for Hong Kong. He pointed to an August tweet where Scheer said “now is the time for everyone committed to democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law to stand with the people of Hong Kong.”

On the contrary, Stephenson said he has only seen “timid” responses from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I think a lot of Hong Kongers don’t feel Canada under the Liberals have stepped up and said anything that would help them in this struggle,” he said.

The Hong Kong protests occur as Canada-China relations remain sour over the detention of two Canadians in China widely seen as punishment for the Vancouver arrest of a Huawei executive in December.

In August, Freeland issued a joint statement with her EU counterpart urging restraint amid “a rising number of unacceptable violent incidents.” That statement prompted China’s embassy in Ottawa to issue a response accusing her of “meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs.”

But so far during the campaign, Hong Kong’s unrest and other foreign policy issues have received scant attention from all party leaders.

Stephenson said parties’ attention toward expat votes could increase if they observe any influence on key swing ridings, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area and Metro Vancouver.

That sentiment was echoed by Baird, now a consultant with much of his work centred in Asia. Bingley said the former Harper minister, who was in town the weekend of their events, had told the audience their votes especially matter if they are being tallied in battleground ridings.

Interest abroad may mean more groups like theirs spring up, but Bingley said their creation is barely novel. Existing already are expat organizations that support the U.S. Republicans, the Australian Liberal Party and U.K. Conservatives.

“What we’re doing is very much within the mainstream of centre-right parties,” he said.

“It’s just that because Canadians couldn’t really vote from abroad up until the Supreme Court changed the rules. There was no infrastructure to do this. So it feels strange to Canadians and yet is actually not strange at all.”

From his observation, there are no Liberal or NDP groups in the city.

The group will have to be mindful of Elections Canada’s third-party rules, which require Canadians spending more than $500 on regulated activities during the campaign to register with it. Agency spokesperson Natasha Gauthier said whether voter registration events are considered a third-party activity depends on the facts and context of each situation.

Conservative spokesperson Simon Jefferies told iPolitics that the group isn’t affiliated with the party but nevertheless agreed to host a webpage for its event.

Bingley said Canadians in Hong Kong live the impact of the world’s geopolitical challenges that aren’t being discussed enough in this election.

“They need to be addressed by leaders, and one of the biggest is the rise of China.”

Source: Amid Hong Kong’s unrest, a pro-Conservative group seeks to rally expat voters

Hongkongers tap Irish immigration investment scheme amid unrest

Targeted investor immigration program. Will be interesting to see the results and evaluations. Does seem better approach than some of the more passive citizenship-by-investment or immigration investment programs:

Ireland’s underserved property segments of nursing homes and social housing have opened up avenues for foreigners to qualify for the country’s fast-track residency scheme, and wealthy Hongkongers are eyeing the investment scheme as the city reels from its worst political crisis.

Dublin offers four options under the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) for those seeking to live and work in Ireland. The first two options are investing in companies that build social housing or nursing homes, which require a minimum 1 million each for at least three years. The other two options are donations of 500,000 to a public project and a 2 million investment in any real estate investment trust listed on the Irish Stock Exchange.

The interest has been substantial enough for Irish developer Bartra Capital to set up shop in Hong Kong following record-high inquiries it received from Hongkongers about the immigration scheme when social unrest in the city started to escalate in July.

“In the last seven to eight weeks, I’d say I’ve met between 80 and 100 clients in Hong Kong,” said James Hartshorn, director of Asia at Bartra. “Prior to that we had signed two to three Hong Kong clients.”

Henry Chin, head of research for Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East at CBRE, said that there is an opportunity for investors to specialise in the development of social and affordable housing considering that affordability is challenging in the Irish market.

Source: Hongkongers tap Irish immigration investment scheme amid unrest

Protests sow division among Vancouverites whose roots are either in Hong Kong or Mainland China

Good reporting on ongoing tensions:

On a scorching Saturday afternoon, Vancent Zhu stood outside a SkyTrain station in Vancouver shouting slogans that condemn violent acts by Hong Kong anti-government protesters. He was facing off against a few hundred supporters of the Hong Kong protests. Among them, a few metres away, was one of his friends.

“Sad. That was exactly how I felt,” Mr. Zhu said, saying he and his friend hold totally different perspectives on Hong Kong’s biggest political crisis in years.

He compared himself and his friend to workers who built the Tower of Babel: “We were once cheering and laughing together, but now, we seem to be strangers.”

At the August protests, Mr. Zhu was joined by hundreds of demonstrators whose roots are mostly in Mainland China. They took to Vancouver streets four times, voicing support for Hong Kong police and denouncing violence during the protests.

“Love China, love Hong Kong; no secession, no violence,” they chanted. In between the rallying calls, they sang the Chinese national anthem, and many were waving a Chinese national flag.

A few meters away stood protesters that mostly have ties to the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. They held “Free Hong Kong” signs and shouted “Hong Kongers, add oil” – an expression to show encouragement – in Cantonese.

The massive protests that have wracked Hong Kong for months were prompted by a controversial extradition bill that has now been withdrawn. But the protests have shown few signs of abating. Demonstrators have added to their lists of demands, which include political reforms and an independent investigation of the police, whose use of violence in response to the protests has angered many.

The turmoil has spilled into major cities around the world that have ex-pat communities, including Vancouver, where the crisis has revealed tensions between newer immigrants from Mainland China and the longer-established Hong Kong immigrants.

Cantonese, the mother tongue of Hong Kongers and residents of several areas of southern China, used to be the dominant language in the Chinese-Canadian community. However, census data from 2016 showed the number of residents speaking Mandarin – the official language of Mainland China – at home in Canada has surpassed the number of those who speak Cantonese.

The same data show the number of Cantonese speakers is slightly higher than the number who speak Mandarin in the Vancouver area, but the gap narrowed significantly between 2011 and 2016.

The Hong Kong protests have opened up deep divisions between the two groups, prompting some Hong Kong Canadians to reject being identified as Chinese.

Jane Li, spokesperson of Vancouver Hong Kong Political Activists, a student-formed organization, said a hidden division between those from the Mainland and Hong Kongers has “erupted.”

“I feel unfortunate, but I am not surprised.”

The 19-year-old said the difference between the two groups lies in politics, but also culture.

“Languages we speak are different. … A lot of adults were brought up while Hong Kong was under the British regime, and they still separate themselves from the Chinese identity,” she said. “Also, in the previous 10 years, the political interference from China has caused a lot of discontent.”

Ms. Li said the divisions have been brought to Vancouver.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed over to Chinese rule in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” formula, which expires in 2047. The agreement guarantees Hong Kong liberties not enjoyed on the mainland, including an independent judiciary and a free press.

For lots of Hong Kongers, the city’s core values – respect for the rule of law and democracy – align much more closely with those of the West than the authoritarian China.

Although Hong Kong protesters considered the proposed extradition bill a further indication of Beijing’s encroachment on the city, Mr. Zhu and many in his group believe Beijing and the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region did nothing wrong.

“You have the right to hold different opinions with the government, but please [protest] within the law. You cannot use violence to beat, intimidate those who do not agree with you.”

Mr. Zhu refuses to be labeled as pro-China: He said he believes people like him who are angry about the protests were actually showing support for the Asian financial hub.

“We also support Hong Kong. … But we don’t support violence,” said Mr. Zhu, stressing that striving for freedom and democracy by using violence is unacceptable.

The anti-government protests started with peaceful marches, but violent clashes between demonstrators and police have escalated in the past few weeks. Hong Kong police have used batons, tear gas and pepper pellets to push back crowds, while protesters have set street fires and hurled bricks and petrol bombs at officers.

“Violence clearly happens. … As long as there is violence, it’s wrong,” said Leo Ji, who attended a pro-China rally on the same August weekend in Toronto.

Members of the Chinese-Canadian community who are condemning the protests are convinced some of the Hong Kong demonstrators and their supporters want independence, although that is not among the demands. But anything that would harm the country’s sovereignty hits a nerve.

At the event in Toronto, Mr. Ji said he saw supporters of the protests holding a coat of arms that was used in colonial Hong Kong.

“To my knowledge, this is a behaviour of secession,” he said.

Ashely Yu, 22, who attended three pro-China rallies in Vancouver, pointed out the “Free Hong Kong” sign, an indication, she said, of a call for independence.

“Hong Kong is part of China,” Ms. Yu said several times.

Victor Ho, former editor of Sing Tao Daily in Canada, argued violence isn’t mainstream in the protests. He added pro-China supporters in Canada and elsewhere are largely influenced by Chinese propaganda that alters information about the Hong Kong movement to discredit it.

When the first massive peaceful protest broke out on June 9, it made international headlines, but Chinese state-backed media ignored it. On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social-media platform that has about 200 million active users a day, content about the protests was censored and information on the June 9 protest didn’t appear at all.

But as clashes became more frequent, Chinese authorities described the movement as showing “signs of terrorism.” Pro-democracy leaders, including Joshua Wong and Martin Lee, a former member of the city’s legislative council, have been called the “saboteurs of Hong Kong” and “traitors.”

Fang Kecheng, assistant professor in the school of journalism and communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said Chinese propaganda is intended to tell its consumers that the protesters’ demands and the ways they deliver them are unreasonable.

“Violent acts are decontextualized [by the Chinese propaganda] and the effect is very obvious, according to opinions online, on WeChat and Weibo. It provoked many Chinese people to oppose or even resent the Hong Kong protests,” Prof. Fang said.

Ms. Yu and Mr. Li acknowledged the main sources of their information about the Hong Kong protests are media outlets or social-media platforms in China. But Mr. Zhu, who said he has examined the issue through reporting from China, Hong Kong and Western countries, concluded the Western media are biased.

Chinese officials have denounced Western journalists, saying they purposely overlooked the violence.

Prof. Fang said the strong reaction from the pro-China camp is not only derived from a potent campaign by Beijing, but also reflects the fact that many overseas Mainlanders tend to link China’s interest to their own, especially when the country is becoming more powerful and influential.

China’s economic success was followed by a heightened sense of patriotism and nationalism. Nicholas Wang, one of the co-ordinators of the pro-China rallies in Vancouver, said attendees don’t uphold China’s Communist Party, but simply have a “patriotic heart.”

“China has become powerful, so people now dare to speak up,” he said.

Mr. Zhu called for Hong Kongers to drop their entrenched prejudice against China because it has been trying to improve itself. He stressed that he hopes peace and order can be restored soon.

But for Mr. Ho and other pro-democracy supporters, this fight cannot end.

“Now, it’s a battle of guarding [the democratic] values that Hong Kongers can’t afford to lose. Once they lose, they would become slaves,” he said.

Source: Protests sow division among Vancouverites whose roots are either in Hong Kong or Mainland China