In an op-ed for the South China Morning Post on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to change the UK’s immigration rules to allow almost 3 million Hong Kong residents to seek refuge in the UK if China implements its new national security law.
Approximately 350,000 Hong Kong residents currently have British National Overseas Passports, and another 2.5 million Hong Kong residents are eligible to apply. Johnson wrote:
If China imposes its national security law, the British government will change our immigration rules and allow any holder of these passports from Hong Kong to come to the UK for a renewable period of 12 months and be given further immigration rights, including the right to work, which could place them on a route to citizenship.
Further, Johnson articulated that he struggles to understand how the national security law will quell tensions in Hong Kong. Johnson hopes China will work alongside the international community to preserve everything that has helped Hong Kong thrive, including the “one country, two systems” approach. Until then, UK will continue to voice their concerns in international forums.
In the midst of this, Hong Kong police on Monday instituted a ban on June 4 vigils honoring the victims of the deadly Tiananmen Square Crackdown of 1989. Authorities claim that the ban is due to COVID-19 restrictions.