Hong Kong I am a Chinese citizen

Great Britain: Boris Johnson offers Hong Kong citizens easier naturalization

In protest against the proposed Hong Kong Security Act, the UK has promised millions of residents of the Chinese Special Administrative Region extended immigration rights and access to British citizenship. "Many people in Hong Kong fear that their way of life - which China has promised to uphold - is threatened," wrote British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a guest post for the Times and the South China Morning Post. The planned law curtails the freedom of the people in the Chinese Special Administrative Region and undermines Hong Kong's autonomy.

If China enforces the security law, its government will offer these people "alternatives," said Johnson. According to his information, 350,000 residents of the former British colony currently have a "British National Overseas" passport, which enables them to enter Great Britain without a visa and to stay for six months. 2.5 million more Hong Kongers born before the transfer of the Crown Colony to China on July 1, 1997, could apply for such a document.

If the Security Act goes into effect, London will change immigration laws for people with British National Overseas status, giving them a one-year right of residence which can be renewed upon request. Johnson also promised them a work permit, which could "pave the way to citizenship," as the British Prime Minister emphasized. But he hopes that it will not get that far and that China will adhere to its international obligations.

Violation of the Joint Declaration

Beijing had caused international outrage with the planned security law for Hong Kong. In the opinion of the critics, the project represents a massive encroachment on the semi-autonomous status of the former British crown colony.

China criticized the deliberations and threatened with "countermeasures". "All compatriots who live in Hong Kong are Chinese citizens," said a foreign office spokesman. The British Prime Minister, however, argues that the Security Act would restrict the freedoms guaranteed when the British Crown Colony was returned to China in 1997 and undermine autonomy.

"If China goes ahead with this, it would be a direct violation of the Joint Declaration, a legally binding treaty registered with the United Nations," Johnson said of the return agreement. It states that following the principle of "one country, two systems", the social and economic system in Hong Kong will remain intact - as will the lifestyle and essential rights and freedoms of the seven million Hong Kong residents.

In view of the protests in Hong Kong that have been going on since last summer, the People's Congress in Beijing on Thursday approved the plans for the National Security Protection Act and instructed the Parliament's Standing Committee to enact it. The law bypasses Hong Kong's parliament. It is directed against activities that Beijing sees as subversive or separatist. It also opposes foreign interference. The pro-democratic forces in Hong Kong fear that they will be targeted.