In Brief

UK offers Hong Kong residents ‘escape’ from Chinese aggression

New ‘pathway to citizenship’ available to citizens with British National Overseas status

The UK government could offer British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders in Hong Kong a path to UK citizenship if China continues to impose itself on the state.

Up to 300,000 BNOs could see their rights to visit the UK without a visa extended if China does not suspend plans for an oppressive new security law in the former British colony, says The Guardian.

China’s parliament yesterday approved new national security legislation that will make it a crime to undermine Beijing’s authority in the territory. Opponents claim that the new laws may be used to permanently undermine the “one country two systems” structure that gives Hong Kong autonomy from the Chinese mainland.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Twitter she was “deeply concerned at China’s proposals” and would “explore options for a path to citizenship for BNO passport holders” with the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

The “UK will continue to defend the rights & freedoms of the people of Hong Kong”, Patel wrote. Raab later added that, if China’s security proposals were confirmed, the UK would extend the six-month limit on BNO visitors and “provide a pathway to future citizenship”.

China has rejected foreign criticism of the proposed law, and says it could take “countermeasures” against the UK, reports the BBC.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: “All such BNO passport holders are Chinese nationals and if the UK insists on changing this practice it will not only violate its own stance but also international law.”

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