ICYMI: Hongkongers are coming to Canada by the thousands. Some fear they won’t be able to stay

Of note. Strong case for flexibility:

It was through pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019 that the couple met and eventually started their life together.

Now, they fear they’ll be imprisoned if they return.

The two have been living in Ontario for more than a year, thanks to an open work permit program that Canada started last year, specifically for Hong Kong residents.

But with the program needing to be renewed in February, the pair say they’re worried there is no pathway for them and others in their situation to remain in Canada once their work permit expires in 2024.

They’re hoping the Canadian government will extend their stay.

“We are lucky we were not both arrested,” said the 28-year-old woman of their time in Hong Kong. The couple requested anonymity due to concerns about their safety should they have to return.

“We were marked by the Hong Kong police already,” she said, explaining the police “marked” their identifications when they were caught putting up pro-democracy posters once.

Legislators are among those joining the chorus now asking the federal government to extend and expand the program in question. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, about 12,800 people had been granted work permits through the program as of June 30.

The pressure comes as increasing numbers of Hongkongers are looking to get out of that city due to concerns about the government’s curtailing of civil liberties — with Canada being one of the favoured destinations.

Hong Kong residents have used the open-work permit to get out of the city as the local government enacts the will of the Chinese Communist Party by arresting pro-democracy activists.

Since the National Security Law was imposed by Beijing in 2020, hundreds of democracy activists have been arrested. Thousands of residents have left Hong Kong, heading to a variety of destinations, including the United Kingdom and Australia.

Figures provided by IRCC show a massive increase in the number of people applying to come to Canada via various streams, including study permits and work permits, since Beijing’s grip began tightening on Hong Kong.

From 2016 to 2021, applications ballooned from almost 6,000 to more than 29,000a year. As of June of this year, 18,000 applications had been received.

Canada’s work permit offered some Hong Kong residents a “lifeline.”

The couple that spoke to the Star applied for the program the day after they were married. Only one of them was eligible thanks to a job offer from an Ontario boutique. It was the only way they could both leave Hong Kong quickly and safely, they say, and they arrived in Canada in July 2021.

Other streams of the program aren’t an option for them now.

The open work permit requires the applicant to have graduated from post-secondary within five years of applying. The woman cannot apply for a stream that would give her a path to permanent residency because that five-year period has subsequently passed for her. Her husband did not attend a post-secondary institution.

“We are eligible for the work permit, but we are not eligible for the permanent residence,” the woman said, “this is kind of ironic.”

Advocates for Hong Kong democracy activists say Canada should extend current permits and expand the program so that more potential targets of the Hong Kong authorities can find refuge in Canada.

Katherine Leung of Hong Kong Watch says she is concerned there doesn’t seem to be a plan in place for when the program expires in February of next year.

“If it’s not extended, the scheme ends,” Leung said.

Meanwhile, there are still many hoping to get out of Hong Kong, and the program’s requirements are too narrow, particularly the requirement to have graduated within five years, critics say.

Though other countries have programs of their own meant to help Hongkongers, Leung said many residents of the city have no program they can access to leave.

“A lot of those facing charges for protest-related offences do not qualify for the scheme,” she said. “Often these are normal people who have contributed a lot to the pro-democracy movement.”

Last month, 19 MPs and senators signed a letter asking Ottawa to expand the open work permit. The letter also suggested adding a “human rights defender” category to the scheme. It urged giving those using the program access to the same mental health and career training as other refugees.

Toronto-area Liberal MP John McKay signed the letter.

“These folks could use a few visa breaks,” McKay said. “These people have been tremendous assets to the country.”

He said under the current environment it’s hard to imagine the Canadian government won’t act to help those seeking refuge through the program.

In a response to whether the program will be expanded, IRCC told the Star it is monitoring the situation.

Also monitoring the situation is the young couple who sacrificed the life they knew to fight the rise of authoritarianism in Hong Kong.

Relieved and grateful to have been granted a lifeline to Canada, they say they now only want to stay.

“We are not planning to go back anymore,” the woman said. “We don’t want to be in prison.”

Source: Hongkongers are coming to Canada by the thousands. Some fear they won’t be able to stay

ICYMI: Hong Kong to teach elementary students about subversion and foreign interference

Yet another sign of the Chinese regime’s crackdown on Hong Kong:

Hong Kong has unveiled controversial guidelines for schools that include teaching students as young as six about colluding with foreign forces and subversion, as part of a new national security curriculum.

Beijing imposed a security law on Hong Kong in June 2020 in response to months of often violent anti-government and anti-China protests in 2019 that put the global financial hub more firmly on an authoritarian path.

The Education Bureau’s guidelines, released late on Thursday, show that Beijing’s plans for the semi-autonomous Hong Kong go beyond quashing dissent, and aim for a societal overhaul to bring its most restive city more in line with the Communist Party-ruled mainland.

Source: Hong Kong to teach elementary students about subversion and foreign interference

Timmy Wong: Chinese-Canadian groups that support Hong Kong’s National Security Law do not represent all Chinese-Canadians

Of note:

As Hong Kong-Canadians residing in Metro Vancouver, we are shocked and saddened by local groups supporting Hong Kong’s National Security Law who claim to represent all Chinese- and Hong Kong-Canadians. The National Congress of Chinese Canadians (NCCC), along with the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver, have both publicly supported this law, which was unilaterally imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing on June 30. They ignore the diversity of opinions among the 1.7 million Hong Kong- and Chinese-Canadians, many of whom chose to immigrate to Canada for freedoms and rights that do not exist under the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

NCCC chairperson David Choi has made a video statement claiming that the majority of Hong Kong- and Chinese-Canadians support the National Security Law. Furthermore, he condones the atrocities committed by Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam and the brutality of Hong Kong police in the name of “National Security.”

Choi further provoked the sensitive issue of Quebec separatism and terrorism, purposely misreading Canadian history to justify his support of this draconian law. NCCC has not been authorized by Hong Kong- or Chinese-Canadians to represent their view or voice since it has not received any mandate to do so from either of these communities.

What is more worrying is that the Beijing government — not any Hong Kong judicial or policy body — will have the ultimate power over how the law should be interpreted. If the law conflicts with any Hong Kong law, the Beijing law prevails. By supporting the National Security Law as Canadians, NCCC is persuading Canadians to support authoritarian rule in Hong Kong and beyond.

This legislation has effectively ended the “One Country, Two Systems” constitutional principle that guided the CCP’s rule of Hong Kong during the 50-year period of handover from Britain. Overnight, Hong Kong has become “just another Chinese city” under the dictatorial CCP. It has also turned into a police state with the establishment of the National Security Bureau, where protesting is essentially prohibited, social media posts are closely monitored, and any slogans supporting Hong Kong’s freedom are outlawed. Any speech that criticizes the CCP could lead to conviction under the charge of subversion. Even the investigation into the Hong Kong Police Force’s brutality against protesters for freedom could lead to charges against people in education institutes or religious and non-profit organizations who are engaged in the exchange of ideas and information. Also their foreign counterparts could be convicted under “Collusion with External or Foreign Forces” provisions in the new law.

Under the new National Security Law, anyone from any quarter in the world who is critical of China could be arrested and tried in secrecy and extradited from Hong Kong to Communist China without any opportunity to appeal. Crimes of “secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion” with foreign forces are punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison. The impact is so serious that the Canadian government has issued a travel warning to Canadians that they could be arbitrarily arrested by the Hong Kong government under this draconian law. Yet NCCC still endorses the National Security Law, betraying the core Canadian values of free speech and human rights.

Hong Kongers are looking to the free world for refuge and protection from China’s state-sponsored terrorism, but the members of NCCC ignore their pleas for help. Instead, they endorse the totalitarian policy of CCP for Hong Kong and echo the CCP’s need to “defend National Security.” They do not and must not represent the voices of 1.7 million Canadians.

We, a group of Hong Kong-Canadians, have been protesting and advocating in solidarity with our fellow Hong Kongers in Hong Kong since June 2019. The world has seen the atrocities of how Hong Kong and Beijing governments treat the Hong Kongers and, one by one, countries are making a stand for freedom with Hong Kongers.

Unlike the NCCC, there are many Chinese- and Hong Kong-Canadians who are deeply aware of the privilege they have as settlers, and who are aware of the long history they have had in this nation fighting for political agency. Chinese-Canadians (who include Hong Kong-Canadians) were finally given the vote in 1947 after many of them served the country bravely and proudly in the Second World War. Their right to vote was a sign that Chinese-Canadians were finally accepted as full Canadians and given access to democracy, freedom, equality and human rights.

Unfortunately, the NCCC, the Chinese Benevolent Association, and many Chinese-Canadians appear to have now forgotten the hard-fought battle for their rights and freedoms in Canada. They enjoy the rights and privileges as protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and use their free speech to deny others the same freedom by propping up an authoritarian, power-hungry regime.

Many Hong Kongers who first moved to Canada moved here out of their fear of the CCP when the handover from the U.K. to China was first announced in 1984. On June 4, 1989, the Tiananmen Massacre hit the souls of many Hong Kongers and it triggered another wave of migration to Canada.

Many of us Hong Kong-Canadians are forever grateful to Canada for allowing us to settle and prosper in this free land. It is a duty as Canadians to stand on guard for freedom. It means that we will defend freedom of speech for the oppressed through our political agency. Many Hong Kong-Canadians have voiced their concerns over the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong through petitions, letter-writing campaigns, protest, and other forms of advocacy. The Canadian government has taken a clear stand by calling out Beijing’s crackdown as illegal and a violation of human rights, to the extent of suspending the extradition treaty with Hong Kong indefinitely. What NCCC claimed is in fact a direct contradiction to what many Canadians believe.

Source: Timmy Wong: Chinese-Canadian groups that support Hong Kong’s National Security Law do not represent all Chinese-Canadians