Citizenship rights to be granted to up to three million Hong Kong nationals
After making several illusions to the decision, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered Hong Kong nationals the chance to settle in the UK and apply for British citizenship, so that they are able to escape from oppressive rules being imposed by China.
According to the PM, China’s new ruling “violates Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy” and as such the UK will be offering an effective “route” to citizenship for those affected.
Those who will be eligible include the estimated 350,000 UK passport holders who live in the former British colony, as well as another 2.6 million who are eligible for a five-year settlement plan which will then qualify them for full citizenship.
According to the PM, China’s new ruling “violates Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy”
The 350,000 is made up of British National Overseas (BNO) passports, who were granted special status by the UK government in the 1980s. Currently, they have restricted rights in the UK; though they are allowed visa-free travel for up to six months, they cannot currently use these passports as a way to become a British citizen.
Now, under the new governmental plans, all British Overseas Nationals and their dependents will be granted the right to remain in the UK. This will include the right to work and study, and then the opportunity to apply for citizenship once they have lived in the UK for at least five years.
On Tuesday, the new law was passed, and Johnson accompanied this by saying that China’s new law was a “clear and serious breach” of the Sino-British joint declaration of 1985. This is a legal agreement that set out how certain freedoms would be protected once China gained sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997.
“It violates Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and threatens the freedoms and rights protected by the joint declaration,” the PM stated.
…under the new governmental plans, all British Overseas Nationals and their dependents will be granted the right to remain in the UK.
“We made clear that if China continued down this path we would introduce a new route for those with British National (Overseas) status to enter the UK, granting them limited leave to remain with the ability to live and work in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship,” he went on to say. “And that is precisely what we will do now.”
Now that this ruling has been passed, BNO passport holders in Hong Kong will be able to travel to the UK – with immediate effect. They will be subject to standard immigration checks, according to a statement by the Prime Minister’s official spokesman, who also added that they will be exempt from minimum salary thresholds in the UK.
Now that this ruling has been passed, BNO passport holders in Hong Kong will be able to travel to the UK – with immediate effect.
Johnson’s decision to support Hong Kong nationals has come off the back of a new law that has been imposed on them by the Chinese government. This law states that citizens can be punished for ‘subversion’ and ‘secession’, which centre on criticism and questioning of government powers. Serious and ongoing concerns have been raised about this law, as Hong Kong citizens will have their rights to protest and speak freely infringed as a result of it. According to the new law, punishments for being seen to subvert or succeed China’s governmental powers would be akin to Terrorism charges – which receive life imprisonment.
China has criticised Britain for stepping in to support Hong Kong and has said in a public address that it will “take action” if the UK follows through with their ruling.