Boris Johnson offers Hong Kong residents UK resettlement package

Boris Johnson offers  Hong Kong residents UK resettlement package
Boris Johnson

The United Kingdom government has announced plan to offer Hong Kong residents the chance to settle in the UK. 

While disclosing this on Wednesday July 1, 2020, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, stated that up to three million Hong Kong residents are to be offered the chance to settle in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship. 

The PM added that Hong Kong's freedoms were being violated by a new security law and those affected would be offered a "route" out of the former UK colony.

"About 350,000 UK passport holders, and 2.6 million others eligible, will be able to come to the UK for five years. And after a further year, they will be able to apply for citizenship.

"British National Overseas Passport holders in Hong Kong were granted special status in the 1980s but currently have restricted rights and are only entitled to visa-free access to the UK for six months," Johnson said. 

He stated further that  all British Overseas Nationals and their dependants would be given right to remain in the UK, including the right to work and study, for five years. 

"At this point, they will be able to apply for settled status, and after a further year, seek citizenship," he added. 

The PM said Tuesday's passing of a new security law by the Hong Kong authorities was a "clear and serious breach" of the 1985 Sino-British joint declaration - a legally binding agreement which set out how certain freedoms would be protected for the 50 years after China assumed sovereignty in 1997.

"It violates Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and threatens the freedoms and rights protected by the joint declaration," he said.

"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 leave 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," Johnson noted. 

Foreign Office permanent secretary, Sir Simon McDonald, expressed the government's "deep concern" about the new law to China during a meeting with the country's ambassador Liu Xioming.

China has passed a wide-ranging new security law for Hong Kong which makes it easier to punish protesters and reduces the city's autonomy.