From this Sunday, millions of Hong Kong people will be able to apply for new visas, which will allow them to stay longer in Great Britain and then claim coexistence, which will provide a way to empower former colonialists who want to escape Chinese repression.
The British National Overseas Passport (BNO) and their relatives were able to apply online for a residence permit in Great Britain from 5:00 pm on Sunday, which not only gives them the right to live there, but also work there. Five years. Eventually, they will be able to apply for citizenship.
So far, they have only been allowed to visit the UK for six months, without working there.
The reform was in response to Beijing’s controversial decision last summer to impose stricter national security legislation on its semi – autonomous region to curb all forms of dissent, following a massive public mobilization in 2019.
Britain has alleged that it rescinded a pledge made by China in 1997 before handing over to Hong Kong to protect the territory’s independence and autonomy for at least half a century. London put forward its moral duty to help its former colony.
“We respect our deep, historic and friendly relations with the people of Hong Kong, and we stand for freedom and autonomy,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement this week.
This version provoked the wrath of China, which announced that it would no longer recognize BNO passports inherited from Handover as an identity document. A symbolic decision, because Hong Kongis usually use their local identity card to leave the territory.
But Beijing said it was ready for “other measures”, raising fears that authorities were trying to prevent the Hong Kong people from leaving.
On Sunday, the official China New Agency accused London of having a “colonial mentality”, warning that the new arrangements would harm “bilateral relations” and “Britain’s long-term interests”.
The liaison office representing the central government in Hong Kong strongly condemned and completely opposed its actions in a statement on Sunday.
It is not known how many Hong Kong people will apply for this visa, especially in the wake of the epidemic that is complicating international travel and weighing down economies, knowing that the health situation in Hong Kong is better than in Great Britain.
But it is 70% of the population of Hong Kong, with 7.5 million residents, who can apply for this visa.
BNO passport applications have increased by more than 300% since the Security Act came into force in late June. As of mid-January, there were 733,000 BNO holders.
London estimates that 150,000 Hong Kong people will come in the next 12 months, with 322,000 coming in the next five years.
At the time of the handover, many Hong Kongers were asking London for full citizenship, but Beijing vehemently opposed it. And BNO is a compromise for Hong Kongers born before 1997.
This passport is now one of the last departure tickets for the people of Hong Kong who want to start a new life somewhere else, the repression intensified in the semi-autonomous region.
Stella, who previously worked in marketing, plans to move to the UK soon with her husband and their three-month-old baby.
“The National Security Act in 2020 is the last straw from its provisions criminalizing freedom of expression,” she told AFP, refusing to give her last name.
One of the conditions for obtaining a new visa is being able to prove that you have enough money to live for at least six months.
Hong Kongers, who are already settling in Britain and helping those who want to emigrate, said many of those who applied were middle-class and had enough savings to come to it.
“Most of the people we spoke to were families with children in elementary or nursery school,” said an activist from Lion Rock Hill UK, whose name refers to one of them on an unknown condition. The most famous mountains of Hong Kong.
“BNO is a lifeboat,” scientist Mike, who recently came with his family in Manchester, told AFP. He said many Hong Kong people were worried about preventing China from fleeing, “so we have to leave as soon as possible. “