Australia

China takes swipe at Australia over plan to give Hong Kongers safe haven visas

The Australian government is considering offering safe haven or fast-tracked skilled migrant visas to Hong Kong citizens. Source: Sipa USA Ivan Abreu / SOPA Images/Sipa US

The Chinese foreign ministry says Australia should avoid going further down the wrong path by offering Hong Kong nationals safe haven visas.

Australia's plan to consider giving safe haven to Hong Kong nationals under threat from draconian security laws has inflamed tensions with China.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said cabinet would consider options after the United Kingdom opened a path to citizenship for millions of Hong Kong residents.

The new laws criminalise secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces.

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The Chinese foreign ministry hit back, urging Australia to look at the national security legislation in a "correct and objective" light.

"Stop interfering in China's internal affairs with Hong Kong as a pretext, and refrain from going further down the wrong path," spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Australia had similar perspectives to the UK about Hong Kong.

"We support the one country, two systems structure that was put in place," he told ABC television on Friday.

"We want to see respect for the basic law that underpins the way in which Hong Kong works as a unique but very important part of China."

Australia could fast track skilled migrant visas for Hong Kong nationals or offer safe haven through the refugee program.

Mr Zhao lashed Britain over its plan to provide a path to citizenship for Hong Kongers with UK overseas national status.

"This is a serious breach of its own commitment and grave violation of international law and basic norms of international relations," he said.

"China strongly condemns this and reserves the right of further reactions, the consequences of which shall be borne by the British side."

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