The Australian government is also considering its options, which include cancelling a free-trade agreement struck in February and joining with other western countries in accepting refugees from Hong Kong – a move that could in turn signal the territory’s population is falling as people leave into a full-blown exodus.

“We have expressed deep our concerns in relation to the security laws and their application in Hong Kong,” the Australian trade minister, Simon Birmingham, told Sky News last week.

“We desperately wish to see Hong Kong retain its status as a location where under the one country, two systems, the basic law is respected – it continues to be upheld by an independent judiciary, that we want to see those key principles retained because that’s what’s made Hong Kong such an important centre for commerce and investment across our region.”