WASHINGTON—The United States is considering the option of welcoming people from Hong Kong in response to China’s push to impose national security legislation in the former British colony, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in remarks released on June 1.
Speaking to the American Enterprise Institute on Friday, Pompeo gave no details about immigration quotas or visas, and merely said: “We are taking a look at it.”
President Donald Trump on Friday ordered his administration to begin the process of eliminating special U.S. treatment for Hong Kong to punish China, but stopped short of immediately ending privileges that have helped the territory remain a global financial center.
Last week, Britain has said it was prepared to offer extended visa rights and a pathway to citizenship for almost 3 million Hong Kong residents.
Asked if Washington was considering following suit to “welcome Hong Kong people to come here and bring their entrepreneurial creativity,” Pompeo replied:
“We are considering it. I don’t know precisely how it will play out. The British have, as you know, a different relationship. A lot of these folks have British national passports. There’s a long history between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom; it’s very different. But we’re taking a look at it.”
Last year, Trump signed legislation stating that Hong Kong residents may not be denied visas because they have been subjected to politically motivated arrest, detention, or other “adverse” government action.
On Friday, Trump also issued a proclamation suspending entry of Chinese nations identified as potential security risks, something sources said could affect thousands of Chinese graduate students.
In a statement on Monday, Pompeo said the move would apply only to graduate students and researchers “targeted, co-opted and exploited” by the Chinese regime, representing “only a small subset” of such applicants.
By Humeyra Pamuk and David Brunnstrom