CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday his government was considering an offer of safe haven to Hong Kong residents threatened by China’s move to impose a tough national security law on the semi-autonomous territory.
Morrison said Cabinet would soon consider options “to provide similar opportunities” as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered Hong Kongers.
“When we have made a final decision on those arrangements, then I’ll make the announcements,” Morrison told reporters. “But if you’re asking: are we prepared to step up and provide support? The answer is: yes.”
Britain is extending residency rights for up to 3 million Hong Kongers eligible for British National Overseas passports, allowing them to live and work in the U.K. for five years.
Morrison said “we think that’s important and very consistent with who we are as a people and very consistent practically with the views that we’ve expressed.”
“They have not positively contributed to Australia’s — or the region’s — security and stability,” Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds told a security think-tank.
“Australia has watched closely as China has actively sought greater influence in the Indo-Pacific,” she said. “Australia is far from alone in being troubled by this.”
Morrison on Wednesday announced 270 billion Australian dollars ($190 billion) in additional defense spending over the next decade, which will include long-range missiles and other capabilities to hold enemies further from its shores.