UK on Wednesday extended Hong Kong residents’ immigration rights after calling China’s new security law for Hong Kong a “serious” violation of the former UK territory’s autonomy.
“We stand for rules and obligations,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament.
“And we think that is the scientific basis for our international relations and the enactment, and deposition of this national security law constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”
Johnson said London had warned Beijing that it would introduce a new route for those with British National Overseas status to enter the UK, granting them the right to live and work in Britain and then to apply for citizenship.
“And that is precisely what we will do now,” Johnson said.
Hong Kong was under UK jurisdiction until Britain handed it to China in 1997 with a guarantee that Beijing would preserve the city’s judicial and legislative autonomy for 50 years.
But critics say the new security law, passed by Beijing’s rubber-stamp parliament this week, tests the limits of a “One Country, Two Systems” deal that formally signed into international law in 1984.
In Parliament, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:
“After further detailed discussions with my RHF the Home Secretary, I can confirm that we will now proceed to honour our commitment to change the arrangements for those holding BNO status.
I can update Honourable Members that we have worked with Ministers across Whitehall and we have now developed proposals for a bespoke immigration route for BNOs and their dependants.
We will grant BNOs five years limited leave to remain, with the right to work or study. After these five years, they will be able to apply for settled status. And after further 12 months with settled status, they will be able to apply for citizenship. This is a special, bespoke, set of arrangements developed for the unique circumstances we face. All those with BNO status will be eligible, as will their family dependants who are usually resident in Hong Kong.
The Home Office will put in place a simple, streamlined, application process, And there will be no quota on numbers.
I want to pay tribute to the Home Secretary and her excellent team at the Home Office for their work in preparation for a moment we all dearly hoped would not arrive. And the Home Secretary will set out further details on our approach in due course.”
Categories: Law of England