You’re welcome to campaign here, Australian senator tells HK activist

Ted Hui (centre) fled Hong Kong late last year after facing criminal charges over democracy protests. (AP pic)

SYDNEY: Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Ted Hui is welcome to campaign on political issues in Australia and his arrival was not a matter for China, the chair of the Australian parliament’s intelligence committee said on Thursday.

In the first comments from an Australian government member since Hui arrived from London on Monday, the chairman of the parliament’s committee on intelligence and security, James Paterson, said immigration policy was a “purely domestic sovereign issue for Australia”.

Hui, who fled Hong Kong late last year after facing criminal charges over democracy protests, said he moved from London to Australia to extend the reach of the pro-democracy movement’s international lobbying.

Australia had a large community of Hong Kong people but no democracy movement leadership, he said.

In a statement on Hui, the Chinese embassy in Australia said it “urges the Australian side to stop meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs and China’s internal affairs in any way. Otherwise the China-Australia relations will only sustain further damage”.

“Any visitor to Australia, whether they are a citizen or not, enjoys all the rights and freedoms that Australians enjoy. They enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of political campaign, so he is welcome to do that here,” Senator Paterson told ABC radio.

He added, “other visitors that have a different view to him are welcome to put their arguments too”.

Hui was granted a tourist visa, an exemption to Australia’s closed border policy, and government assistance to secure seats for his family on a repatriation flight from London. He said he didn’t intend to seek asylum.

The government intelligence committee held a public hearing on Thursday on national security risks to the university sector, which has focused on research collaboration with China.