Left Menu
Development News Edition

UK to extend visa rights for Hong Kong unless China ‘steps back’

PTI | London | Updated: 29-05-2020 17:44 IST | Created: 29-05-2020 16:33 IST
UK to extend visa rights for Hong Kong unless China ‘steps back’
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (File pic) Image Credit: ANI

The UK government has said that it is open to extending the visa rights of British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders in Hong Kong to offer them a path to the country's citizenship unless China "steps back" from a new security flaw in the former British territory. China's parliament on Thursday approved the new law which would make it a crime to undermine Beijing's authority in Hong Kong. An estimated 300,000 BNO passport holders in Hong Kong currently have the right to visit the UK for up to six months without a visa. These passports were issued by the UK to people in the region before the transfer of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

"In relation to BNO passport holders, currently they only have the right to come to the UK for six months," said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. "If China continues down this path and implements this national security legislation, we will change that status. And we will remove that six-month limit and allow those BNO passport holders to come to the UK and to apply to work and study for extendable periods of 12 months and that will itself provide a pathway to future citizenship," he said.

According to reports, the proposal has the backing of Indian-origin Home Secretary Priti Patel, with details yet to be fleshed out. Some British MPs want the UK government to go further and offer automatic citizenship to BNO holders in Hong Kong. Conservative Party MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said BNO holders should have an automatic right to live and work in the UK. "We must move faster in recognizing the rights of the most entrepreneurial people in Asia, and speak out for those who we know so well back in the region. We should also build partnerships that can defend the rule of law worldwide," he said. Raab's intervention followed a strongly-worded joint statement by the UK, US, Australia, and Canada condemning Beijing's proposed new law.

"China's decision to impose the new national security law on Hong Kong lies in direct conflict with its international obligations under the principles of the legally-binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration," the joint statement said. "As Hong Kong's stability and prosperity are jeopardized by the new imposition, we call on the government of China to work with the Hong Kong SAR Government and the people of Hong Kong to find a mutually acceptable accommodation that will honor China's international obligations under the UN-filed Sino-British Joint Declaration," it said.

China, however, has rejected foreign criticism of its new law, which has received the backing of the Chinese parliament and could be in force by next month. Reacting to the UK government's proposal, China on Friday threatened it with reprisals. In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters at a press briefing that China "reserves the right to take corresponding countermeasures." Last year more than 100,000 people in Hong Kong signed a petition calling for full BNO citizenship rights. The British government responded by saying that only UK citizens and certain Commonwealth citizens had the right of abode in the UK and cited a 2007 review, which said giving BNO holders full citizenship would be a breach of the agreement under which the UK handed Hong Kong back to China.

In 1972, the UK offered asylum to around 30,000 Ugandan Asians, mostly Indian-origin, with BNO passports after the then-military ruler Idi Amin ordered about 60,000 Asians to leave. At the time, some British MPs said India should take responsibility for the refugees, but then Prime Minister Edward Heath said the UK had a duty to accept them.



COVID-19 seems cooking biggest ever global scam

The increasing number of corruption cases on COVID-19 funds from throughout the world and involvement of high profile persons indicate that the countries cant ignore corruption in their pandemic response programs. This has generated the nee...

Health Management Information Systems lack holistic, integrated, and pandemic resilient character

Being a part of the United Nations system, the World Health Organization WHO deserves its share of rebuke for its alleged failure issue COVID-19 health emergency alerts on appropriate time. However, the pandemic has also exposed loopholes i...

Pride in the time of coronavirus: a welcome move online?

This year is different in many ways not least as celebrations are also taking place against the dramatic backdrop of a global health crisis and a resurgence in grassroots activism following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. ...

COVID-19: Weighing up the benefits and limitations of edtech platforms

Edtech companies shouldnt focus on merely pushing contents, but to provide an interactive, effective teaching and learning environment. ...


Latest News

Would have changed my game to be a T20 player: Ganguly backs format

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly on Sunday lent his support for T20 cricket, saying he would have reinvented his game to meet the demands of the shortest format if he was playing in this era. T20 is very important. I would have changed my game...

'Lootera' team celebrates film’s seventh anniversary

Filmmaker Vikramaditya Motwane and actors Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha on Sunday celebrated seven years of their film Lootera. Set in the 1950s, the romantic-drama chronicled the story of a young conman Ranveer posing as an archaeologis...

4 deaths, 30 more COVID-19 cases among Maharashtra policemen

Four deaths and 30 more cases of coronavirus were reported among the Maharashtra Police personnel in the last 24 hours, the Maharashtra Police said.With this, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra Police has now reached 5,205 wi...

New Sebi norms to give more fund-raising flexibility to stressed firms

Promoters of stressed companies will get more flexibility in attracting investors and the process of determining the right price for assets would get easier following a new set of amendments introduced by capital market regulator Sebi in it...

Give Feedback