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Stephan Keuter. Photo credit: Deutscher Bundestag/Achim Melde
Berlin

AfD inquiry into refugee policy making waves in Hong Kong

An inquiry from the Eurosceptic AfD to the German federal government regarding the "German refugee policy towards the Chinese special administrative zone Hong Kong and the granting of asylum status" has apparently caused a sensation reaching as far as Southeast Asia.

Published: June 14, 2021, 11:45 am

    In a comment for Welt-Online, the Hong Kong activist Glacier Kwong accused the AfD of inciting “xenophobia” with its request. She also claimed that the German opposition party was “abusing” the Hong Kong exiled community.

    The AfD’s request specifically concerns the Federal Government’s assessment of the influence of two NGOs, Hong Kong Indigenous and Haven Assistance.

    Hong Kong Indigenous is an organization which, according to media reports, expressly advocates violence in political struggle. The HNA.de writes following: “Unlike the organizers of the ‘Umbrella Revolution’, Hong Kong sees indigenous violence as a partly necessary tool for bringing changes”. Its leader, Ray Wong, was the first British national granted asylum in the European Union. Wong now lives in Germany.

    Haven Assistance, on the other hand, is an exiled NGO that unequivocally recommends that Hong Kong activists and their sympathizers immigrate to Europe. The Japanese newspaper The Mainichi writes: “Haven Assistance is a group founded by democracy activists in exile to help other Hong Kong activists seeking asylum.”

    The organization “urges Germany and Europe as a whole to do more in order to help protesters who want to emigrate”. In its inquiry, the AfD wanted to know how high the German government rated the potential of Hong Kong activists willing to emigrate.

    The federal Government’s answer to the AfD’s questions was extremely taciturn. Berlin obviously wanted neither to comment on the two organizations nor give any sort of assessment of the expected number of Hong Kong activists willing to immigrate. “The federal government has no knowledge of its own on these issues,” was the answer.

    The German mainstream media seems to be better informed than the government in this regard. On June 3, the online edition of the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung urged the grouping as follows: “If you can, leave the metropolis. It is a movement consisting of hundreds of thousands of people wanting to flee while the world has decided to remain silent.”

    The AfD Bundestag member Stefan Keuter, one of the initiators of the inquiry, in an interview with the German Newsmagazine ZUERST! expressed his incomprehension regarding Glacier Kwong’s objection in the Welt-Online. “She has surely never seen the inquiry about Hong Kong,” Keuter insisted.

    Keuter continued: “The question is not really about whether it is a problem today – it is rather, as in the case of other groups, about whether it could become a problem in the future. The main difficulty is that at the NGO level people are currently overcrowding Germany considering it as a country for exile. And often those fleeing to Germany are NGO-associated people who advocate violence in political struggle. I do see a problem for the future in the advocacy of violence. That was, so to speak, a bellicose announcement from them. In addition, the suspicion arises that politically persecuted people do not simply want to live in safety and be free from state persecution, but are also looking for a safe retreat with good financial infrastructure to continue their struggle.”

    This suspicion was well documented in an article by Bloomberg, outlining the financial difficulties that young “Umbrella Revolution” activists face in the UK. Clearly, Britain’s “sanctuary offer” aims to attract only the wealthy fleeing Hong Kong.

    It is also “not unfair to ask who comes to Germany with what motives,” said Keuter in the interview with ZUERST!. The point of the asylum and refugee policy is not “to build up on German soil ‘exile battalions’ for an ideologically motivated struggle 9000 kilometers away from the epicentrum, as in the case of Hong Kong.”

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