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As Hong Kong cracks down on dual nationality, Ottawa warns: Tell them you’re Canadian

In this Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, photo, police officers take enter the Apple Daily newspaper headquarters as founder Jimmy Lai is arrested by police officers at his home in Hong Kong. Seven human rights experts affiliated with the U.N. raised concerns over Hong Kong's national security law in a letter addressed to Chinese authorities, saying that the law infringed on certain fundamental rights. (Apple Daily via AP)

Global Affairs Canada is warning dual Chinese-Canadian citizens to present themselves only as Canadians if they are questioned or detained by authorities in Hong Kong.

In a statement emailed to Global News, Christelle Chartrand, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said “under the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China, dual nationality is not legally recognized in Hong Kong.”

Read more: Canada updates travel advisory for Hong Kong after China enacts security law

“And local authorities may refuse to grant consular access to detained dual nationals who declare themselves as Chinese nationals, as China begins to enforce this law enacted in 1980 more broadly and rigorously,” the statement said.

According to Global Affairs Canada, Canadians who wish to receive consular services should “present themselves as Canadians to authorities at all times.”

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“Canada has expressed its concern to the Hong Kong Government and continues to seek additional information from local authorities on any changes to the treatment of dual nationals,” the statement said.

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The comments come after a National Post article suggested Hong Kong’s government has declared that dual citizens must choose the nationality they wish to remain legally, while in the territory.

A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada told Global News in an email that their indicators suggest there has not been a significant change in the Canadian population in Hong Kong in years. She pointed to a 2011 report from the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, which states “a conservative estimate of total Canadian citizens living in Hong Kong is 295,930.”

Global News has reached out to Global Affairs Canada to determine how many Canadians are currently living in Hong Kong, but did not immediately hear back.

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On top of a global travel advisory due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Travel Canada has for months been warning Canadians to “exercise a high degree of caution” in China, due to the “risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

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The warning came after a new National Security Law was implemented in June which has resulted in the arrest of 55 pro-democracy activists, as well as members of the media.

One lawyer has also been arrested under the law.

In a joint statement released after the arrests, then-Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and his American, British and Australian counterparts expressed their “serious concern” about the arrests.

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The ministers said the National Security Law, which Chinese and Hong Kong authorities argue is necessary to maintain order in the city, is actually being used to crackdown on dissent and opposing political views.

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Travel Canada says Canadians should carry adequate identification, “such as a passport and valid visa or residence permit, at all times,” while in the country.

“Police carry out random checks and failure to produce proper identification could potentially lead to fines or detention. Keep a photocopy of your passport in case of its loss or seizure,” the website reads.

–With files from The Canadian Press