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The UK Stands Up, the U.S. Not So Much

The Wall Street Journal

Malcolm Riddell

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The UK Stands Up, the U.S. Not So Much

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The UK Stands Up, the U.S. Not So Much

'Hong Kong’s Escape Routes'

‘To its eternal credit, the British government is honoring its promise to its former colonial subjects by offering a path to citizenship for Hong Kongers who hold British National (Overseas) passports and their family members.'

'U.K. Opens Its Doors to Five Million Hong Kong Residents'

“We have honored our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong, and we have stood up for freedom and autonomy—values both the U.K. and Hong Kong hold dear.” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

‘In an unusual move that is exacerbating tensions with Beijing, Britain has opened its doors to as many as five million residents of its former colony.’

  • ‘As of Sunday, holders of British National Overseas passports—which are available to Hong Kong citizens born in the territory before it was handed back to China in 1997—can move with their families to the U.K. on five-year visas.’
  • ‘After that period, they can apply for British citizenship. Previously these passport holders could only get six-month British visas.’

‘The immigration overhaul is a response to China’s imposition of a new national security law on Hong Kong, which Britain says violates Hong Kong’s judicial independence from Beijing.’

  • ‘The U.K. argues this was guaranteed until 2047 by an international treaty the two countries signed.’

‘Beijing has accused London of meddling in its affairs and expressed its anger toward the new immigration plan.’

‘The move is largely symbolic because people traveling through Hong Kong and mainland China border checkpoints typically use their Hong Kong identity card and a “return home card” issued by Chinese authorities.’

  • ‘A passport is only used upon entry and exit from other countries.’

‘The visa offer is open to about 70% of Hong Kong’s population.’

  • ‘And it could trigger capital outflows of $75 billion from Hong Kong over five years, estimates Bank of America

‘Applications for the BNO travel document have surged from 167,000 in July to 612,000 in August last year.’

  • ‘Since the policy was announced last year, 7,000 BNO holders and their families have been granted leave to remain in the U.K., the Home Office says.’

‘That is a small chunk of those eligible.’

  • ‘Any resident born in Hong Kong before 1997 can apply for a BNO passport, equating to some 2.9 million people.’
  • ‘These people have 2.3 million family members also eligible for the visas.'

‘It is unclear how many Hong Kong residents will take up Britain’s offer given Covid-19 travel restrictions, Britain’s steep economic downturn amid the pandemic and pressure from the Chinese government.’

  • ‘The U.K. Home Office estimates around 300,000 people will move from Hong Kong to Britain in the next five years.’
  • ‘That would dwarf the existing Hong Kong-born population in the U.K., which a 2011 census put at just over 100,000.’

‘ “We have honored our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong, and we have stood up for freedom and autonomy—values both the U.K. and Hong Kong hold dear,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday.’

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