Hong Kong activists discus parliament-in-exile

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong are discussing a plan to create an unofficial parliament-in-exile to send a message to China that freedom cannot be crushed, according to campaigner Simon Cheng. Cheng spoke to Reuters in an exclusive interview in London -- while tensions flared back in Hong Kong. More than 300 people were arrested in the former British colony on Wednesday, with police firing tear gas and water cannons. Protesters were in the streets in defiance of sweeping new security legislation introduced by China. --- A law that punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces - with up to life in prison. China denies interfering in Hong Kong and has warned foreign powers not to meddle in its affairs. For Cheng back in London the issue rings close to home -- he's a Hong Kong citizen who worked for the British consulate there for almost two years until he fled after he said he was beaten and tortured by China's secret police. He has since been granted asylum by Britain and says another parliament could help keep democracy alive. "The shadow parliament can send a very clear signal to Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities that, actually, the democracy need not to be based on the mercy of Beijing, and need not be complied with the constitution or the system, because the people are losing hope that Beijing or the authorities can live up to their promise to let the people get 'one person, one vote' to elect their representatives, and even their leader. So now we want to set up the non-official civic groups that truly reflect the voice of the Hong Kong people." He said that the idea was still at an early stage and declined to say where the parliament might sit. After UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered some Hong Kong residents the path to British citizenship following China's imposition of the law, Cheng says he expects thousands of people to come. He called this a very good signal from the UK, but said one day they will be back in Hong Kong.