LONDON (Reuters) – Practically 5,000 Hong Kong residents have utilized to stay, work and research in the UK underneath a brand new visa scheme which opens up a path to British citizenship for folks fleeing China’s crackdown within the former colony, The Occasions newspaper reported.
London made modifications to its visa guidelines to provide hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents an opportunity to settle in Britain after China imposed a brand new safety regulation that democracy activists say will finish the freedoms promised to the territory in 1997.
Underneath the foundations, Hong Kong residents who maintain a British Nationwide Abroad (BNO) passport might be allowed to stay in the UK for 5 years after which apply for “settled standing” and citizenship.
About half of the 5,000 functions obtained had been from Hongkongers who had been already in Britain, The Occasions reported, citing unidentified sources.
Some 5.4 million Hongkongers could possibly be in the end be eligible for British citizenship underneath the scheme.
These folks had already been provided non permanent settlement in the UK after fleeing China’s safety crackdown whereas ready for the visa change.
Britain’s inside ministry declined to touch upon leaked data. A spokeswoman stated the information can be revealed within the coming months.
Britain and China have been arguing for months about what London and Washington say is an try and silence dissent in Hong Kong after pro-democracy protests in 2019 and 2020.
The British flag was lowered over Hong Kong when the colony was handed again to China in 1997 after greater than 150 years of British rule – imposed after Britain defeated China within the First Opium Battle.
Hong Kong’s autonomy was assured underneath the “one nation, two methods” settlement enshrined within the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration signed by then Chinese language Premier Zhao Ziyang and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
China says Britain’s views on Hong Kong are clouded by an imperial hangover and that the territory wants the nationwide safety regulation to counter damaging unrest.
China and Hong Kong have stated they’ll now not recognise the BNO passport as a sound journey doc from Jan. 31. BNO standing was created by Britain in 1987 particularly for Hong Kong residents.
The British authorities has forecast the brand new visa may entice greater than 300,000 folks and their dependants to Britain. Beijing stated it might make them second-class residents.
Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Paul Sandle in London; Modifying by Man Faulconbridge and Angus MacSwan