London: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said that Britain is ready to open the door to about three million Hong Kong citizens if China imposes a new security law that critics say would rob the territory of its autonomy.
Writing in The Times, Mr Johnson has offered to make what he says would be one of the “biggest changes” in the history of the British visa system to allow 2.85 million Hong Kong citizens the chance of fully-fledged citizenship via BNO (British National Overseas) passport.
“UK would be left with no other choice than to protect the freedom of Hong Kong citizens and maintains its ties with the territory,” the head of the Conservative party said, adding, “The move, which represents a dramatic escalation in the stand-off between the UK and China, would put Hongkongers on the route to citizenship.”
China’s ceremonial legislature, the National People’s Congress, endorsed a security law for Hong Kong earlier this week that has strained relations with the UK and the US.
The law will alter the territory’s mini-constitution, or Basic Law, to require its government to enforce measures to be decided later by Chinese leaders.
Critics have said the law erodes the “one country, two systems” framework that promised Hong Kong freedoms not found in mainland China for 50 years.
Protesters have taken to the streets in Hong Kong to demonstrate, despite coronavirus social distancing restrictions still being in place.
“Many people in Hong Kong fear their way of life, which China pledged to uphold, is under threat and if China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away; instead we will honour our obligations and provide an alternative,” he added.
Britain is also in talks with the US and Australia and Brainstorming the things over China’s new draconian law which targets the freedom of Hong Kong citizens.