UK offers citizenship to Hong Kong residents in response to new Chinese law


Defending rules and obligations: Boris Johnson said hours after China made its first arrests in Hong Kong


Britain extended a wider path to citizenship for Hong Kong residents on Wednesday in response to China’s new security law for the former British territory.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement represents the most direct international response to legislation that has been strongly condemned by Western allies.

He intervenes during a review in London of all of his relations with Beijing, which includes a reassessment of the role that the Chinese Huawei plays in the constitution of the British 5G data network.

“We stand up for rules and obligations,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament just hours after China made its first arrests in Hong Kong under the new legislation.

“The enactment and tabling of this national security law is a clear and serious violation of the joint Sino-British declaration.”

Johnson said London had warned Beijing that it would introduce a new route for those with British National Overseas status to travel to the United Kingdom.

“And that is precisely what we are going to do now,” he said.

About 300,000 Hong Kongers have BNO passports and 2.6 million are eligible to apply.

Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said Britain’s offer also extended to dependents of those with BNO status, but declined to be determined on the number of applicants.

Sky News and other media said the Raab office also summoned Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming to express its deep concern.

“Deeply disturbing”

Hong Kong was under British jurisdiction until Britain handed it over to China in 1997 with the guarantee that Beijing would preserve the city’s judicial and legislative autonomy for 50 years.

But critics say the new law – passed by the Beijing Parliament this week without its text being made public – tests the limits of the “One country, two systems” principle which officially entered international law in 1984.

The last British governor of Hong Kong called the details of the overnight legislation “even worse than I expected”.

“These are Orwellian things,” Chris Patten told the BBC.

“It goes further and further than anyone feared.”

Britain’s response to Chinese law offers a much smoother path to British citizenship for millions of Hong Kongers.

Raab said that Hong Kong residents with BNO status and their dependents would first have the right to work or study in Britain for five years.

They would then have the right to apply for establishment status and then possible citizenship.

He said there would be “no quotas” and called the whole system “tailor-made”.

“This is a serious and deeply disturbing step,” he said of the Chinese law.

“China, through this national security legislation, is not keeping its promises to the people of Hong Kong. We will keep our promises,” he told lawmakers.

Policy review

Britain had opened up to closer ties with China as it sought out trading partners after ending decades of EU membership this year.

The Johnson government also angered the US administration in January by allowing the private Chinese telecommunications group Huawei to roll out the new fast British data network.

But Britain is currently exploring ways to completely remove Huawei from its system and create an alliance of European and Asian suppliers that reduce China’s dominance in this area.

Britain’s condemnation of Chinese law has crossed the political divide and has seen the Asian-focused London group HSBC suffer political aggression for having openly supported it last month.

Raab did not mention the bank by name but noted: “The rights and freedoms and responsibilities in this country to the people of Hong Kong must not be sacrificed on the altar of bankers’ bonuses.”

HSBC offered support for the law after public pressure from a pro-Beijing figure in Hong Kong who underscored the bank’s dependence on business in China.

(With the exception of the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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