“The move brings the UK’s historical and moral commitment to the people of Hong Kong who chose to maintain their ties to the UK by obtaining BN (O) status in 1997. This provides them with a way to live in The UK if they choose to do so. ”
Holders of BN (O) were given a special status in the 1980s, but for decades the document did not give them the right to work or live in the UK.
That changed last year, after Beijing enacted a national security law over Hong Kong that banned secession, subversion and cooperation with foreign forces. The law has already had a major impact on the city’s political life, with almost every prominent opposition politician currently facing allegations of subversion, and widespread self-censorship.
Both moves were met with widespread international criticism, particularly from the UK, which argued the laws violated an agreement governing Hong Kong’s surrender in 1997. On the other hand, Beijing has accused London of illegal actions by providing a path to citizenship. for Hong Kongers according to scheme BN (O).
He said the BN (O) plan “seriously violates China’s sovereignty, seriously interferes in Hong Kong and China’s internal affairs, and seriously violates international law and the basic norms of international relations.”
The Beijing and Hong Kong governments have said they will no longer recognize BN (O) passports as a valid travel document, although most holders also hold Hong Kong or other passports, so the effect of this will be limited. .
In a statement, British Home Secretary Priti Patel said London had “promised to support freedom for the people of Hong Kong, so I am proud to have been able to support so many people when they need our help”.
“It’s an unprecedented and generous scheme and there is no other visa in the world of this nature,” she added. “We are working hard to successfully relocate people here and accept that there is nothing more difficult than leaving your home to rebuild a life in a new place.”
Most of the money will go to advice in England “to provide targeted support for newcomers”, including English language lessons and housing assistance for those in need. About 5 million will be used to set up “12 virtual welcome centers” across the UK, to help Hong Kongers with issues such as applying to schools, enrolling in GPs or setting up businesses.
Protest leader Nathan Law granted asylum
While millions of Hong Kongers are eligible for BN (O) status, many of the youngest protesters who took part in the anti-government riots that rocked the city in 2019 and drew worldwide attention would have been born too late.
Over the past year, authorities have begun collecting and prosecuting those suspected of protest-related violations, while other protest leaders and activists have been charged under national security law.
While Law is older than many protesters, he was born in mainland China and thus is not fit for the BN (O) scheme.
“The fact that I am wanted under National Security Act shows that I am exposed to severe political persecution and it is unlikely that I will return to Hong Kong safely,” Law said on Twitter. “My situation, however, may not apply to all asylum seekers in Hong Kong. Some may not have enough evidence to substantiate their claims due to a lack of media reports or fleeing persecution. Fear of their claims who are denied, most of them live in anguish and anxiety. ”
The law said he hoped the Home Office would “consider more comprehensive evidence” in cases involving Hong Kong protesters, in order to enable more asylum seekers in the UK.
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