The rise of Hong Kong Brotherhood!
On Wednesday 3rd June 2020, Boris Johnson declared that should China implement new security laws, the UK would proffer the citizens of Hong Kong a “route to citizenship”. The new law that China is scheduling to implement has faced considerable criticism from Hong Kong, UK, and its allies such as the United States and Australia. They are liaising in terms of a strategy should China implement the new law.
What is the Newly Proposed Law from China?
In 1997, British control of Hong Kong was relinquished back to China, but this was subject to an agreement whereby Hong Kong and China would abide by different systems albeit all being in one country. This was with the intent of protecting specific freedoms in Hong Kong such as the freedom of speech, democratic rights and an impartial judiciary.
This also included Hong Kong having its own national security, laid out in Article 23 of the Basic Law.
The conditions of the new law would mean that China would gain major control over security measures in Hong Kong. This is because in Hong Kong, the new law would make all the following activities criminal acts:
The emotion that has been evoked from the citizens of Hong Kong as well as other countries is uncertainty and worry because this risks the freedoms initially granted to Hong Kong being lost and handed to the Chinese government, such as freedom of speech and right to protest. Equally, this would pass all freedoms into the hands of the Beijing government and it would be a crime to undermine the Beijing government’s authority.
Another part of the law also translates to the possibility of China setting up institutions in Hong Kong solely responsible for overseeing national security in Hong Kong, furthermore, taking away its freedom of national security.
The Response from the UK and other Nations
The UK is already conducting talks in terms of a strategy with the US and Australia should China make the law into primary legislation. The strategy would be formed with the objective of encouraging people to flee from Hong Kong and escape central authority from Beijing.
It has also been speculated that the UK’s retaliation towards China’s draft legislation is considered as a revenge tactic. Because the existence and the worldwide spread of COVID-19 has been touted to be rooted from the Chinese soil, there is an argument which suggests that major nations such as the UK wish to destabilise Hong Kong, by way of mass outward migration, in response to China causing a global pandemic.
It is pertinent to note that a petition was filed in the British Parliament in 2019 asking that British National (Overseas) Citizens be given full British Citizenship. The response given was ‘There are no plans to amend the law in this respect’.
As of last week, US president Donald Trump ordered the start of abolishing US support to Hong Kong in a bid to punish China for causing a worldwide pandemic. Because the US and Australia are also supporting the UK in their attempt to change UK immigration rules for Hong Kong because of China’s initiating of new national security laws, this further suggests that the intention to ‘punish’ China is a mutually agreed intention by major nations. Hence, the proposed amendments to immigration rules for Hong Kong could be seen as a means of reprimanding China because of COVID-19.
Changes to the Immigration Rules
The UK prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Wednesday 3rd June 2020 that should China impose the new law, individuals residing in Hong Kong who are BNO (British National Overseas) passport holders are permitted to enter the UK for 12 months without the need to hold a visa. This is an extension from initially being 6 months. Approximately 350,000 Hong Kong citizens hold a BNO passport, however approximately 2.6 million other individuals who hold BNO status without having actual passports may also be eligible.
Impact of Immigration Rules
Ultimately, this strategy is being promoted as providing moral and continued support to the citizens of Hong Kong and is being viewed as a ‘remarkable change’ in line with previous immigration rules.
“[the new immigration rules] would amount to one of the biggest changes in our visa system in British history”
“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.” – Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister.
The UK is seen as choosing not to respond to China’s ‘bullying’ tactics and support the citizens of Hong Kong. The UK government are urging China to reconsider its plans to threat Hong Kong’s security, comfort, and autonomy. However, as mentioned above, this intention of providing support to Hong Kong and not back down to China may also coincide with an international intention to seek revenge on China for causing the spread of coronavirus.
On one hand, the UK has always been wanting to tighten its immigration system and looking to lower the number of migrants relocating to the UK. On the other hand, here we are looking to embrance 3 million Hong Kong nationals. Makes you go hmm….
Should you have any queries regarding the above information or if you are in need to assistance with immigration related matters, please get in contact with a legal professional at Hudson McKenzie via email at email@example.com or by telephone +44 (0)20 3318 5794.