China and UK clash over fate of Hong Kongers

Cheryl Sanders
July 2, 2020

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that millions of Hongkongers eligible for British National (Overseas) passports, their spouses and underage children will be allowed to resettle in the UK and given a path to British citizenship.

"Clearly this is not something that we wanted".

University of Hong Kong law professor and barrister Simon Young was highly critical of the legislation. "Its affairs are purely China's internal affairs and brook no external interference", Liu underlined.

As of February, there were 349,881 holders of BN (O) passports and the British government estimates that around 2.5 million people who used to hold the passports are eligible to apply for them.

"We must face up to the fact that the existence of legal loopholes in safeguarding national security has already made Hong Kong society pay a heavy price", a commentary in People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, read.

Police detain protesters after a protest in Causeway Bay before the annual handover march in Hong Kong.

The new national security law's passage comes after Hong Kong's legislature in early June made it illegal to insult the Chinese national anthem.

Australia is considering offering safe haven visas to Hong Kong residents endangered by draconian national security laws imposed on the city by China, in a move likely to further inflame tensions with Beijing.

"If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and pledges as well as worldwide law and basic norms governing global relations", Beijing's embassy in London said in a statement, adding, "we firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures".

"We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures", it added.

The spat over passports is one of a series of flash-points in United Kingdom. -China relations, which have deteriorated on issues ranging from the British response to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong to the ongoing debate over whether Huawei Technologies Co. can retain a role in building the U.K.'s next-generation 5G telecommunications networks.

Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few "troublemakers" and will not affect rights and freedoms, nor investor interests.

"We want a positive relationship with China", Raab told Parliament on Wednesday.

A police spokesman told Reuters the arrested man was surnamed Wong but could not confirm if he was leaving Hong Kong or working at the airport. The law punishes secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison and came in response to months of mass pro-democracy protests that at times descended into violence past year.

China had never recognized the "unequal treaties" allowing Britain's rule of Hong Kong island, the Kowloon peninsula, and later its lease of the rural New Territories.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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