‘Vaguely defined’ Chinese security laws prompt new HK travel alert

Australian authorities have issued a further travel warning connected to the Chinese government, urging travellers to avoid Hong Kong over “vaguely defined national security” laws.

The upgraded advisory follows back of controversial and far-reaching new national security laws introduced by China that impose harsh penalties on pro-democracy protesters.

The laws allow for criminal cases in Hong Kong to be transferred to mainland China, and possible life in prison for crimes such as subversion or secession.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warning comes just a day after it said Australians might face arbitrary detention in mainland China.

The department published the advice on Thursday, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison expected to follow soon after with confirmation that Australia will accept Hong Kong residents wanting to flee the former colony after the imposition of the new laws.

During the pandemic, Australians are largely banned from travelling overseas without government permission. But DFAT also says people already in Hong Kong should “reconsider your need to remain” there.

“The new national security legislation for Hong Kong could be interpreted broadly. Under the law, you could be deported or face possible transfer to mainland China for prosecution under mainland law,” the new DFAT Hong Kong travel warning read.

“The full extent of the law and how it will be applied is not yet clear.”

The national security laws follow huge pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The advisory warns that people in Hong Kong might be at risk of arrest.

“You may be at increased risk of detention on vaguely defined national security grounds. You could break the law without intending to,” the warning continued.

“If you’re concerned about the new law, reconsider your need to remain in Hong Kong.”

-more to come

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