Boris Johnson offers 3 million Hong Kong citizens refuge in the UK

Business Insider US
  • The UK offers millions of Hong Kong citizens the right to move to the UK.
  • Three million Hong Kong citizens with British visa rights will be offered a path to UK citizenship, along with their family members.
  • UK prime minister Boris Johnson announces the move in retaliation to China's passage of a new national security law in the country.
  • Johnson says the law breaches the Sino-British joint declaration.
  • Almost 200 protesters were arrested in Hong Kong after the law was imposed.
  • For more stories go to

Boris Johnson has offered three million Hong Kong citizens the chance to live and work in the UK after China defied global opposition to impose a new national security law on the region.

The UK prime minister on Wednesday told the House of Commons that he will go ahead with the move after China imposed new security laws on the semiautonomous region on Tuesday.

The laws, which are opposed by the UK, the European Union and the United States, are designed to curtail anti-government protests in the region. Hong Kong police carried out nearly 200 arrests on Wednesday.

Johnson said the imposition of the law is in breach of the Sino-British joint declaration, signed by the UK and China in 1984.

In retaliation, the UK government has offered 5 years of limited right to remain to all Hong Kong citizens eligible to apply for a British national overseas passport, and their dependents - some 3 million people.

Arrivals will be eligible to apply for settled status in the UK for a further 12 months beyond their initial 5-year stay, after which they would be eligible for full UK citizenship.

Johnson today told Members of Parliament: "The enactment and imposition of this national security law constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British joint declaration.

"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 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 right 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."

There were 349,881 holders of British overseas national passport holders and 2.9 million people who were entitled to one in Hong Kong, as of February this year, the UK government estimates.

The British public is broadly supportive of the move to welcome citizens from Hong Kong. A Populus poll published this week by the China Research Group of Conservative Members of Parliament, showed that 61% of British people supported the move compared to 11% who opposed it.

Announcing the decision, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK "will not look the other way on Hong Kong, and we will not duck our historic responsibilities to its people.

He added: "We will honour our commitment to change the arrangements for those holding BNO status and continue to stand up for the people of Hong Kong."

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