- Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that up to three million residents of Hong Kong would be offered the chance to settle in the UK.
- China's embassy in the UK hit back in a statement, protesting the UK's decision.
- Australia and Taiwan have also stepped up to help Hong Kong residents.
China today threatened to retaliate against the UK’s decision to expand immigration rights for Hong Kong residents following the enactment of the controversial national security law in the former British colony. Several western countries have condemned the passage of the law.
Beijing’s new national security law is purportedly aimed at punishing “acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and conspiracy with foreign forces to compromise national security.” The text was ratified by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the legislature of the communist state, ignoring the Hong Kong Legislative Council.
London protested against what it considers a violation of the agreement which allowed the handover of the territory to China in 1997 under the “One country, two systems principle.” The agreement guarantees the autonomy of the territory and freedoms that are not in mainland China until 2047.
In response, the United Kingdom announced a pathway to citizenship to Hong Kong residents. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that up to three million residents of Hong Kong would be offered the chance to settle in the UK, and ultimately apply for citizenship, due to the fact that their freedoms were being violated by the new security law.
China Protests UK Move
China’s embassy in the UK hit back in a statement, protesting the UK’s decision, and saying that the new policy doesn’t apply to Chinese citizens in Hong Kong who hold BNO passports.
“If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and pledges as well as international law and basic norms guiding international relations,” the Chinese Embassy said. “We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also said his country is “very actively” considering offering to welcome residents of China’s semi-autonomous region, considering the situation “very worrying.” Taiwan, which functions as an independent state, although Beijing considers the island to be a province under its jurisdiction, has opened an office to help Hong Kong residents take up residence in its territory.
The law was enacted after repeated warnings by the Chinese communist regime against dissent in Hong Kong, shaken in 2019 by seven months of demonstrations in defense of democratic reforms. The protests were often marked by clashes with the police, which led to the arrest of more than 9,000 people.
Critics of the law are convinced that it is the prelude to a vast campaign of repression in the city. National security is often used as a pretext in mainland China to punish activists and dissidents. The critics denounce, in particular, the fact that China has jurisdiction over certain matters covered by the law, which runs counter to the idea of a sovereign territory from a judicial point of view.
Thousands of protesters demonstrated against the enactment of the law on Wednesday, the day that marked the 23rd anniversary of the handing over of the territory’s sovereignty to China. The police responded using water cannons, tear gas, and pepper spray. Nearly 400 protesters were arrested, including ten under the controversial new law.