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AFP
July 2, 2020

UK offers Hong Kongers citizenship

World

AFP
July 2, 2020

LONDON: Britain on Wednesday extended Hong Kong residents a broader path to citizenship in response to China’s sweeping new security law for the former UK territory.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement represents the most direct international response to legislation that has been roundly condemned by Western allies. It comes during a London review of its entire range of relations with Beijing, including its decision to allow China’s Huawei help build Britain new 5G data network.

"We stand for rules and obligations," Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament just hours after China made its first arrest in Hong Kong under the new legislation.

"And we think that is the scientific basis for our international relations and the enactment, and deposition of this national security law constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration."

Johnson said London had warned Beijing that it would introduce a new route for those with British National Overseas status to enter the UK. "And that is precisely what we will do now," he told lawmakers.

About 300,000 Hong Kongers have BNO passports and another 2.6 million are eligible to apply. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britain’s offer also extended to dependents of those with BNO status but refused to be drawn about how many would apply.

Hong Kong was under UK jurisdiction until Britain handed it to China in 1997 with a guarantee that Beijing would preserve the city’s judicial and legislative autonomy for 50 years.

But critics say the new law -- passed by Beijing’s rubber-stamp parliament this week without its text being released to the public -- tests the limits of the "One Country, Two Systems" principle that formally entered international law in 1984.