A pro-democracy protester (C) waves a British colonial flag during a "Lunch With You" rally at a shopping mall in the Central district in Hong Kong on June 1, 2020.
AFP/Isaac Lawrence
UK's Johnson offers visas for millions in Hong Kong
(Agence France-Presse) - June 3, 2020 - 8:07am

LONDON, United Kingdom — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday he would offer millions of Hong Kongers visas and a possible route to UK citizenship if China persists with its national security law.

"Many people in Hong Kong fear their way of life — which China pledged to uphold — is under threat," he wrote in an article for The Times newspaper and the South China Morning Post.

"If China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away; instead we will honour our obligations and provide an alternative."

About 350,000 people in Hong Kong currently hold British National (Overseas) passports, which allow visa-free access to Britain for up to six months, Johnson wrote.

Another 2.5 million people would be eligible to apply for one.

"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," he wrote.

The new law was brought in after a wave of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and approved by Beijing's rubber-stamp parliament as necessary to tackling "terrorism" and "separatism".

Opponents fear it will lead to political oppression in the financial hub, eroding freedoms and autonomy supposedly guaranteed in the 1997 handover from Britain to China.

Johnson said the Hong Kong law would "curtail its freedoms and dramatically erode its autonomy".

If implemented, "Britain would then have no choice but to uphold our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong", he wrote.

London has already announced plans to extend visa rights to those eligible for BN(O) passports and joined international condemnation of Beijing.

But Johnson's personal intervention significantly ups the pressure.

"I hope it will not come to this," he wrote, insisting that "Britain does not seek to prevent China's rise".

"It is precisely because we welcome China as a leading member of the world community that we expect it to abide by international agreements," he wrote.

He rejected as "false" claims that London organised the protests, adding: "Britain wants nothing more than for Hong Kong to succeed under 'one country, two systems'.

"I hope that China wants the same. Let us work together to make it so."

BORIS JOHNSON HONG KONG
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 8, 2020 - 12:52pm

Millions march in Hong Kong in a powerful rebuke of an extradition law feared to expose them to China's capricious justice system.

July 8, 2020 - 12:52pm

China's opening of a new office allowing its intelligence agents to operate openly in Hong Kong for the first time is a "historic moment" that will help safeguard national security, the city's leader says.

"Today's unveiling ceremony is a historic moment because we are witnessing another milestone in the establishment of a sound legal system and enforcement mechanism for maintaining national security in Hong Kong," Chief Executive Carrie Lam says at a speech during an inauguration ceremony for the new office.

July 8, 2020 - 10:42am

China's opening of a new office allowing its intelligence agents to operate openly in Hong Kong for the first time is a "historic moment" that will help safeguard national security, the city's leader said Wednesday.

"Today's unveiling ceremony is a historic moment because we are witnessing another milestone in the establishment of a sound legal system and enforcement mechanism for maintaining national security in Hong Kong," Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a speech during an inauguration ceremony for the new office. — AFP

July 8, 2020 - 8:08am

China opens a new office for its security agents to operate publicly in Hong Kong for the first time, state media says.

"The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was inaugurated here on Wednesday morning," the Xinhua news agency says. — AFP

July 6, 2020 - 8:15pm

The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous city, activist Joshua Wong said Monday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy.

Wong, one of the city's most prominent young activists, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow campaigners were being prosecuted for involvement in civil unrest which rocked Hong Kong last year.

China enacted the security law for the restless city last week, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. — AFP

July 6, 2020 - 6:48pm

China warned Canada on Monday that it would retaliate over Ottawa's response to a new national security law in Hong Kong, threatening to sink their troubled diplomatic relations to new lows.

Canada last week suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and halted exports of sensitive military gear to the financial hub as Western nations voiced concern about the legislation's impact on the city's special rights.

"China strongly condemns this and reserves the right to make further response. All consequences arising therefrom will be borne by Canada," foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular briefing. — AFP

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