The British Prime Minister has offered three million Hong Kong citizens the right to live and work in the UK after China defied global opposition to impose a new national-security law on Hong Kong.
On Wednesday Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that he would go ahead with the move after China imposed the law on the semiautonomous region on Tuesday.
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Johnson said he would ‘willingly’ bring in one of the ‘biggest changes in our visa system in British history’ as an ‘alternative’ to Chinese repression.
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Business Insider reports: The law — opposed by the UK, the European Union, and the US — is designed to curtail anti-government protests in the region. The police in Hong Kong said they arrested more than 300 protesters on Wednesday.
Johnson said the law breached the Sino-British Joint Declaration that the UK and China signed in 1984.
In retaliation, the UK government will offer five years of limited leave to remain to all Hong Kong citizens eligible to apply for a British national overseas passport and their dependents — some 3 million people, Johnson said. After five years, they would be eligible to apply for settled status in the UK for another year, then they would be eligible for full UK citizenship.
“The enactment and imposition of this national-security law constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” Johnson told members of Parliament on Wednesday.
“It violates Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and is in direct conflict with Hong Kong basic law.
“The law also threatens the freedoms and rights protected by the joint declaration.”
He added: “We made clear, Mr. Speaker, that if China continued down this path we would introduce a new route for those with British national overseas status to enter the UK, granting them limited leave to remain with the ability to live and work in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship — and that is precisely what we will do now.”
China has repsonded by telling Britain to “step back from the brink” and “stop interfering” in China’s affairs after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would offer 3 million H
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