Hong Kong activist Nathan Law has applied for asylum in the UK, six months after fleeing his home on the eve of the national security law coming into force.
Law revealed in an opinion piece for The Guardian on Monday that he had submitted a refugee claim to the UK government. He said he had chosen Britain in the hope that he could “sound the alarm” about the threats to democracy in Europe from the Chinese Communist Party.
“For a long time, many worked under the fantasy that China would be a strategic partner of the West, perhaps even a part of the democratic world,” he said.
“The process of awakening from this illusion takes time. In the United States, taking an assertive approach to China and positioning it as one of the country’s greatest enemies is now a bipartisan consensus. This is not the case in the UK and the EU; that consensus must be built. “
There is increasing caution in Europe because of Beijing’s expansionism and the vulnerability of European nations – which have strong commercial ties – and institutional sectors, such as education, to Chinese influence.
Law, a prominent pro-democracy activist and former politician, fled Hong Kong in late June, shortly before the introduction of the national security law, but did not reveal that he had gone to the UK until a few weeks later. He told his followers on social media at the time he left because he faced “unknown dangers” under the new law and because he had spoken to the United States Congress about the crisis in Hong Kong.
“The departure of a prominent activist pointed out that something very bad had happened in the city,” he said. “My story was broadcast globally, raising awareness of the difficult situation in Hong Kong.”
It first gained notoriety during the protests of the “umbrella movement” in 2014, which called for universal suffrage for Hong Kongers. After the protests, Law, Joshua Wong, and Agnes Chow formed the Demosisto political party. Four candidates, including Law, won seats but were later disqualified.
The trio were prominent voices in the protest movement in 2019, when millions marched against an extradition bill before it expanded into a broader pro-democracy movement with months of protests sparking brutal crackdown on the part of the authorities.
Law, Wong and Chow were frequent targets of arrests and charges of seeking foreign influence. Following the implementation of the national security law on June 30, the party disbanded. Since then, Wong and Chow have been jailed for crimes related to protests.
In October, a Hong Kong judge issued arrest warrants for Law and fellow activist Sunny Cheung, who also left Hong Kong, after they failed to appear in court. They were among several activists indicted by an unauthorized assembly when people defied the bans on pandemic gathering to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The crackdown has prompted serious reprimands and sanctions from governments, including those of the US and the UK, which have also expanded an immigration route for millions of eligible Hong Kongers to relocate there.
Law said he had been welcomed in the UK, where he was allowed to “speak freely”, with his voice amplified by parliamentarians and the media.
“With the efforts of my friends and colleagues in both the UK and Hong Kong, a stronger force for human rights and freedom will be forged,” he said.
“No matter what obstacles we face, as Hong Kongers, we will never give up.”
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.