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Britain grants asylum to former consular workers who told us about torture in China

HONG KONG – A former employee of the British Consulate in Hong Kong who said he was tortured by authorities in mainland China last year has been granted asylum in the UK.

The disappearance of consulate worker Simon Cheng last year at the height of the demonstrations in democracy in Hong Kong highlights the issues that had raised months of protest. Hong Kongers partly walked the streets in fear of being subjected to the opaque Chinese legal system as mainland commanders extend their reach to people in the semi-autonomous Hong Kong, a former British colony.

“I am grateful for the determination and courage shown by the British government to rescue British citizens,”

; Cheng wrote on Facebook above a photo of the letter granting him asylum. “I also hope that my case can be a precedent for other Hong Kongers to seek protection.”

The British Foreign Office could not immediately be reached for comment.

The asylum to Mr. Cheng came amid widespread concern in Hong Kong on Wednesday after China introduced national security legislation in Hong Kong aimed at wiping out displays of dissent against the Beijing government. The transition has led to other nations being indicted against China, raising fears that it spells the end of the “one country, two systems” framework that marked the territory.

Hong Kong police, who made several arrests under the law during protests on Wednesday, said a 24-year-old man suspected of having knifed a police officer was arrested early Thursday at the city’s airport. Local news outlets said he had been preparing to go to London.

The British government on Wednesday confirmed plans to open a road for as many as three million people from Hong Kong to gain British citizenship. The country’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said the decision responded to the “serious and deeply worrying” new security law.

Raab called the law a violation of the Joint Declaration, the 1984 treaty under which Britain agreed to return Hong Kong in 1997. He said the law violated the city’s autonomy, threatened civil rights and undermined judicial independence.

State Secretary Mike Pompeo called the law “outrageous and offensive to all nations,” because even in one of its articles, even non-Hong Kong residents are likely to be penalized for being run by Chinese law.

Last year, Cheng, 29, traveled from Hong Kong to mainland Shenzhen for a business conference. He was stopped by police when he returned to Hong Kong at the city’s high-speed railway station, some of which is under mainland jurisdiction.

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