Hong Kong Residents in U.S. Get Extended Residency Amid China's Opposition Crackdown

Hong Kong residents in the U.S. facing deportation have been granted extended residency by the Biden administration amid China's crackdown on opposition to the mainland, the White House announced in a statement.

President Joe Biden signed a memorandum Thursday for deferred enforced departure of certain Hong Kong residents currently in the United States who were fleeing from China.

"This action demonstrates President Biden's strong support for people in Hong Kong in the face of ongoing repression by the People's Republic of China (PRC), and makes clear we will not stand idly by as the PRC breaks its promises to Hong Kong and to the international community," White House press secretary Jenn Psaki wrote in the statement.

The statement addresses China's National Security Law, which has been used against pro-democracy publications and demonstrators "to deny basic rights and freedoms, assault Hong Kong's autonomy, and undermine its remaining democratic processes and institutions."

"Given the politically motivated arrests and trials, the silencing of the media, and the diminishing the space for elections and democratic opposition, we will continue to take steps in support of people in Hong Kong," the statement reads.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Hong Kong Protests
The Biden administration granted extended residency for Hong Kong citizens facing deportation on Aug. 5, 2021, amid China's crackdown on opposition. Pro-democracy activist Raphael Wong (2nd R), from the League of Social Democrats, speaks during a protest in Hong Kong on July 1, 2021, while a flag-raising ceremony to mark the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from Britain is held nearby. Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images

Residents of Hong Kong who are in the U.S. and facing deportation will be allowed to remain for at least 18 more months because of China's National Security Law.

It comes as relations between the U.S. and China have deteriorated amid a trade war and mounting tensions over Chinese moves to curb political dissent in Hong Kong.

The Chinese government has sought to stifle opposition following protests there in 2019 against a proposed law allowing extraditions to mainland China. That has led to concern that the former British colony is losing the freedoms it was promised when it was handed over to Chinese control in 1997.

It wasn't immediately clear how many people would be eligible for the deferral, which the Department of Homeland Security said would allow Hong Kong residents to work while they are in the U.S.

Police officers outside court
Pro-democracy demonstrator Tong Ying-kit has been sentenced to nine years in prison in the closely watched first case under Hong Kong's national security law as Beijing tightens control over the territory. Police officers stand guard outside a court Friday, July 30, 2021, in Hong Kong, as Tong exits the court after his sentencing for the violation of a security law during a 2020 protest. Vincent Yu/AP Photo