Fugitive former Hong Kong lawmaker Ted Hui reveals move to Australia, thanks authorities for waiving Covid-19 entry curbs

·3-min read

Fugitive ex-lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung, who had been in Britain after fleeing criminal charges in the city, revealed on Tuesday he had moved to Australia to broaden Hong Kong activists’ fight for greater democracy abroad.

Hui announced on his Facebook page that he arrived in Australia early on Tuesday to continue his lobbying work, saying he would leave such efforts in Britain to fellow activists including Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who moved there following Beijing’s imposition of the national security law in June last year.

Speaking to the Post after his arrival, Hui denied suggestions Britain had put pressure on him to leave. Instead, the former opposition lawmaker said he had always seen Britain as a stopover before moving on to a third destination, where he would put down roots.

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Australia offers Hongkongers pathway to permanent residency

“I have always been in touch with some of the Australian legislators and I can finally meet them in person, as well as Hongkongers’ concern groups here,” he said.

Hui said he would lobby the Australian government to press sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials and loosen its immigration rules to allow residents facing persecution to move there.

But he did not specify his location, citing fears for his safety, although he revealed he had settled for now in southeastern Australia.

The former Democratic Party legislator said he was in the country on a tourist visa. When asked how he intended to remain there in the future, Hui said he would rely on his personal savings and support through Patreon, a social media platform recently used by many Hong Kong opposition figures to receive donations from supporters.

“For the long term, I’ve yet to think it over,” he said.

Ted Hui says he has now left Britain. Photo: Facebook
Ted Hui says he has now left Britain. Photo: Facebook

In his Facebook post, he thanked the Australian authorities for exempting him from strict Covid-19 entry restrictions, adding he had started 14 days of compulsory quarantine.

In his social media post, Hui also expressed his gratitude to the Australian government for coordinating the flight arrangements. But he said he had not applied for asylum and that doing so would be his last option.

“Although there are many Hongkongers living and studying in Australia, there are relatively few Hong Kong political leaders who are in exile here and are engaged in lobbying work. This is one of the reasons why I decided to move to Australia,” Hui said.

He also pointed out that Australia and neighbouring New Zealand were often engaged in disagreements with China on issues such as democracy, freedom and international trade.

There were also personal considerations, he said, adding his family had relatives in Australia who could provide them with support.

Australia suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong in July last year, saying it was “deeply concerned” about Beijing’s imposition of the national security law on the city.

The 38-year-old former lawmaker fled Hong Kong while out on bail late last year as he faced a raft of charges tied to the anti-government protests that broke out in the city in 2019.

While in Britain, Hui reported that his bank accounts at HSBC, Hang Seng Bank and Bank of China were frozen. He earlier urged British authorities to impose sanctions on banking giant HSBC for freezing credit cards and savings accounts belonging to him and his family due to “political considerations”.

Hui first left Hong Kong for Denmark on November 30, supposedly to attend climate change meetings in the capital Copenhagen. The ruse had helped him to secure court approval to leave Hong Kong while awaiting trial.

Declaring himself in self-exile, Hui spent five days in the Scandinavian country before flying to London, provoking a strong response from Beijing.

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