The government of Boris Johnson would enable almost 3 million Hong Kong people to migrate to the United Kingdom, causing greater deterioration of relations with China after it imposed a new security regulation on the former British colony.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the British Prime Minister stated that the current bill contravenes the London-Beijing Agreement of 1984, which laid out the “one nation, two systems” policy to maintain Hong Kong ‘s sovereignty after it reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.
In the U.K. Project to change the status of British National (Overseas) passport holders and give them a pathway and UK. Bourgeoisie. There are 350,000 individuals in Hong Kong keeping BNO passports, with another 2,5 million qualifying for them. China has blamed Great Britain. Interfering in the foreign relations after the plan was first tabled in May.
“The enactment and the imposition of this national security law constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British joint declaration,” Johnson said. “It violates Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and is in conflict with Hong Kong’s Basic Law.”
Johnson said he’d 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 U.K., granting them limited leave to remain, with the ability to live and work in the U.K. and thereafter to apply for citizenship — and that is is precisely what we will do now.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the new “bespoke immigration route” will allow holders of BNO status to come to the U.K. without the current six month limit, granting them five years limited leave to remain, with the ability to live and work in the U.K. After these five years, they will be able to apply for settled status and, after a further twelve months with that status, for citizenship.
Community dependents are also admitted into the UK. And there would be no cap on approved amounts, he added. Raab has made it clear, though, that he wants “a significant number” of those willing to live in Hong Kong or travel elsewhere in the country.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said his cabinet was “very active” considering offering safe haven for Hong Kong citizens. He did not provide information on how this should be done.
“We think that’s important and very consistent with who we are as a people,” said Morrison, whose government has had its own clashes with China this year that have soured relations with its largest trading partner.
In the U.K., Raab also restated his criticism of HSBC for backing the new law at the expense of Hong Kong citizens’ rights. “I have been very clear in relation to HSBC and to all the banks — the rights and freedoms and our responsibilities in this country to the people of Hong Kong should not be sacrificed on the altar of bankers’ bonuses,” he said.
Speaking later on ITV’s “Peston” program, Raab acknowledged that the U.K. can’t stop China blocking Hong Kong residents from leaving, but that he hoped that would not happen as it is a reputational risk’
“I wouldn’t want to be naive about this, I think we need to be realistic,” he said. “But I do think China as a rising leading member of the international community is sensitive to the reputational risk in all of this.”
The Chinese Embassy in London hit back in a statement, saying that the U.K. had indicated that the new policy would not apply to Chinese citizens in Hong Kong who hold BNO passports.
“If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and pledges as well as international law and basic norms guiding international relations,” the Chinese Embassy said. “We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures.”