Hong Kong remains a territory of a dispute between the Chinese and British. The British were the first colonial power ruling Hong Kong for over 150 years. Now with the Chinese crackdown in the region, democracy seems to be in trouble. The prosperous region has always been a point of conflict between the communists and democrats. With political tensions mounting, Britain has announced visa policies for Honk Kong residents with BNO passports to settle in the UK. The first round of 5000 applicants is the tip of the iceberg. Millions of Hong Kong residents who wish to protect their democratic rights would take up these opportunities. Many activists and media people who are fearful of their lives have already fled to Britain on their dual passport and wish to attain permanent citizenship for themselves and their families.
Table of Contents
History of Hong Kong and the colonial powers fighting for it
The history of the rule in Hong Kong is long and complicated. The financial and technological hub of the world, Hong Kong was long under imperial rule. Britain was the first power to colonize it. The Qing dynasty was defeated in the First Opium War by the British. After that, British troops won the second opium war and gained Kowloon too. They ruled over the region till Japan took over after winning it in the Second World War. Their reign only lasted from 1941 to 1946 after the British reclaimed it with the Chinese’s help. In the following years, Hong Kong grew in terms of population and emerged as an economic power with mainland China’s help. Manufactures and investors flocked to the religion to take advantage of new opportunities, all the while Britain was still ruling. Finally, in 1984, the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed that returned Hong Kong to the Chinese.
The basic law came into effect in Hong Kong in 1997. Not everyone was happy under the rule of communist China. This was the beginning of one country, two systems. It was a blend of communist China and capitalist Britain. As a capitalistic economy, Hong Kong continued to enjoy growth and financial success. However, recently, the region has been an epicentre of political and civil unrest. The rights of citizens are under threat, and people are out on the streets protesting. However, an autocratic China knows to silence opposition. The national security law of 2020 was the final nail in the coffin. The fate of Hong Kong is yet to be sealed.
Hong Kong residents wish to immigrate to Britain
After the latest national security law was announced in China, pro-democracy activists have been fearful of their lives. There is some relief for people holding a BNO or British National Overseas passport. They can flee to Britain or apply for asylum there. It is easier to get a settled status or citizenship on this passport. The first 5000 applicants for a new UK visa included mainly Hong Kong residents currently living in the UK. This shows the urgency and immigration condition of many Hongkongers. Millions of people in Hong Kong might be waiting to leave the country due to the tensions. An almost equal number of people might hold a BNO.
After the change of power in Hong Kong, those already in the UK are waiting for a visa status change. The crackdown of the Chinese regime on Hong Kong activists remains a concern. 2019 and 2020 have seen some large-scale resettlement from Hong Kong. The British flag was lowered publically in Hong Kong in 1947 when tension blew up. The British colonial rule of over 150 years was finally ending. The tie of government with Chinese powers made the political climate worse. The scenario has gotten even more dangerous and volatile since then. Clashes between the government and protestors are common. People who criticize the regime face stick disciplinary action. Hence, Britain anticipates many would migrate to Britain while they can as the BNO passport no longer remains valid in Hong Kong.
Are dual citizens being discriminated against in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong has been undergoing many political changes. Democratic rights are no longer sacred or protected. Officials announced that dual citizens should no longer be eligible for foreign consular assistance. The Chinese laws are being slowly implemented in Hong Kong. Dual nationals must now choose their loyalty. The dual British passport is almost an anti-national symbol for the regime. The new rule comes as a bad shock to the UK and the USA, which has many businessmen and tourists traveling from Hong Kong on a BNO.
Further announcement was made that natives can hold multiple passports but have to change to single citizenship. In China, however, multiple passports are also not allowed. Under Chinese law, dual citizenship is a disgrace.
The Chinese laws were implemented in Hong Kong long back in the 90s. Dual nationals in custody will no longer have consular rights in Hong Kong unless they denounce their Chinese nationality. This makes it easier for lawmakers to take in political prisoners. It is also a great tool to invoke fear among citizens. Even if you enter Hong Kong on a dual passport, you will be treated under Chinese national laws. If they are incarcerated for any reason, the British consulate will not be able to reach the dual citizens. In the wake of such human rights violations, Britain has decided to extend visas for dual citizens from Hong Kong. More measures need to be in place for refugees from Hong Kong to get citizenship or stay status in Britain.
The clashes between Britain and China in recent times will defiantly impact Hong Kong. This small nation which is financially extremely strong, has always been a pawn in the game between world powers. The transition from democracy to autocratic rule in Hong Kong will undoubtedly cause more civil unrest. It is not easy when citizens are to give up their rights. Citizens of Hong Kong have made it a point to raise their voices against the new government’s wrongdoings.