UK may offer citizenship path to 3 million HK residents

The U.K. may open a path to citizenship for almost 3 million Hong Kong residents unless China backs down on its planned security law for the city.
The move would vastly expand the number of people in the former British colony who could be eligible to live in the U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab indicated earlier that about 350,000 Hong Kong residents may be considered. The broader step was revealed in a media factsheet issued Friday by the Home Office.
Chinese lawmakers approved this week a resolution to draft a new national security law for Hong Kong, a measure that democracy advocates say will limit essential freedoms. The U.K. government says the legislation would be in breach of the international treaty signed before the Britain returned its former colony to Chinese control in 1997. President Donald Trump said Friday he would move to end Hong Kong’s privileged trade status with the U.S. over the legislation.
The proposed law has reignited the pro-democracy protests that raged in Hong Kong last year, but had largely halted as the city grappled with the pandemic. Protesters fear the legislation, which aims to tame acts of treason, secession and sedition and would allow mainland security forces to operate in the city, will erode the “high degree of autonomy” that China agreed to respect when it regained control.
Hong Kong was a British colony for 156 years. At the time of handover in 1997, many residents were granted British Nationals (Overseas) status. As of Feb. 24, there were about 2.9 million people that had the status, the factsheet said. Of those, 349,881 were holders of a British Nationals (Overseas) passport.
The BNO passport holders currently have the right to come to the U.K. for six months. Raab had said that limit would be removed, allowing them to apply to work and study for extendible periods of 12 months. He referred to the change as a “pathway to future citizenship.” Those rights could now be extended to the wider pool, the factsheet said.
“What we now would like to see is China just pause for thought and step back from this step, reconsider and above all live up to its international obligations,” Raab said Thursday. Andrew Langley, Bloomberg

Categories Macau