Australia warns citizens in Hong Kong of detention risk

Protesters demonstrate against the new law at a shopping mall in Hong Kong last month. (AP pic)

SYDNEY: Australia on Thursday warned its citizens in Hong Kong of the risk of detention under “vaguely defined” security laws recently imposed by China on the territory.

In an updated travel warning certain to anger Beijing, Australia’s foreign ministry urged its nationals to “reconsider your need to remain in Hong Kong” if they have concerns about the new laws.

The warning came as local media reported Prime Minister Scott Morrison was going to announce Australia would offer “safe haven” visas to Hong Kongers resident in the country, a move similar to what was done following the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

Earlier this week, the foreign ministry upgraded its travel warning for China, saying Australians faced possible “arbitrary detention” when travelling to the country.

China’s embassy in Canberra blasted that warning as “completely ridiculous and disinformation”.

In Thursday’s notice, the ministry said the new national security law imposed on Hong Kong could be “interpreted broadly” and possibly lead to Australians being transferred to mainland China for prosecution.

While noting that the full extent of the law and how it will be applied “is not yet clear”, it said Australians “may be at increased risk of detention on vaguely defined national security grounds”.

“You could break the law without intending to,” it added.