The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has said that he will change the UK’s immigration system to provide support for Hong Kong nationals who may be impacted by China’s new proposed law.
The law, which is currently in his draft stage, has been rubber-stamped and passed by the Chinese parliament. All that remains now is for it to be fleshed out and passed into legislation. It raises concerns and fears for Hong Kong nationals for several reasons, the primary of these being that it would impose severe restrictions on their freedoms and rights.
The proposed law would work to penalise certain behaviours and actions and would place restrictions on protests and free speech. These are both important facets to the political and social history of Hong Kong. Amongst other things, the law would seek to punish individuals who were seen to be committing either subversion (undermining the power or authority of the central government) or succession (breaking away from the country).
In the midst of this, Boris Johnson issued a statement earlier this week in which he promised to provide support to the people of Hong Kong if China’s law is put into practice.
The proposed law would work to penalise certain behaviours and actions and would place restrictions on protests and free speech.
“Britain will not walk away” he stated in a press conference, before outlining the ways in which the UK plans to show its support. This, he said, would involve allowing Hong Kong nationals who hold a British National (Overseas) (or, BNO) passport to come and live in the UK without visa restrictions for 12 months. This, he went on to say, could be used as qualifying time for British citizenship. As it stands, BNO passport holders can currently stay in the UK for six months without restrictions.
“If it proves necessary, the British government will take this step and take it willingly”, he stated earlier this week.
“Many people in Hong Kong fear their way of life, which China pledged to uphold, is under threat.”
“If China proceeds to justify these fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away; instead we will honour obligations and provide and alternative”.
The UK’s ties with Hong Kong are linked to the fact that the country was a British colony until the late 1990’s. Then, it was handed to China, under a unique agreement that retained joint control over Hong Kong while devolving powers to the state.
“Britain will not walk away” [Johnson] stated in a press conference, before outlining the ways in which the UK plans to show its support.
Right now, senior British MPs are in talks with representatives from nations in the Five Eyes alliance, including Canada, New Zealand and Australia and the UK is working with them to encourage the UN to employ an envoy who can monitor the new law’s effects on Hong Kong’s human rights.
[Image Credit: Vox]