Boris Johnson offered a path for British citizenship to 3 million Hong Kong residents


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote an intervention on South China Morning Post, Hong Kong newspaper, offering to change UK immigration laws to make immigration easier for Hong Kong residents if China finally approves a disputed national security law that will further reduce autonomy of the special region.

– Also read: Hong Kong is about to change forever

Johnson wrote that currently 350,000 people living in Hong Kong – which was under UK control until 1997 – have a British National Overseas passport, granted in the 1990s to the inhabitants of the region, and another 2.5 million would have the requirements to request it. Currently these passports allow a visa-free stay of up to 6 months, but Johnson has offered to increase this period to 12 months, with the option to renew it and with the right to work in the UK and apply for British citizenship.

The security law referred to by Johnson has been at the center of a major debate for weeks. It has already been approved by the National People’s Assembly of China, and has a path ahead to become law which is actually a formality, unless the Beijing government changes its mind. The detailed contents of this new law are not yet known, but will aim to block terrorist activities in Hong Kong, to prohibit acts of “sedition, subversion and secession” and “foreign interference in local affairs”. They will therefore repress any act that can be considered as a threat to national security. For pro-democracy activists, the new law is an attempt by the Chinese government to end protests and violate the rights recognized by the Hong Kong Basic Law, such as freedom of speech. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, commenting on the law, said that “Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China.”

Johnson argued that if China approves the law it will conflict with the 1984 joint declaration with the United Kingdom, a legally binding treaty: “The United Kingdom would have no choice but to respect the deep bond of history and friendship with the people. of Hong Kong ». Johnson adds that that proposal would be one of the biggest changes to UK immigration laws in history, but that he is determined to continue it if necessary.

The United Kingdom does not want to prevent China’s rise. On the contrary, we will work alongside you on all the issues in which we have shared interests, from trade to climate change. We want a modern and mature relationship based on mutual respect and recognition of China’s global role. And it is precisely because we welcome China as a prominent member of the international community that we expect it to respect its international agreements.

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