It was only a matter of time before the people of Hong Kong began leaving the territory after Beijing attacked their rights under decades of “one country, two systems” rule.
Over the weekend, about 5 million citizens of the semi-autonomous zone of Hong Kong became eligible to apply for British visas, allowing them to move to the U.K. with a pathway to citizenship, the Associated Press reported.
After the Chinese Communist Party attempted to overhaul their Democratic government and free way of life, the British government says about 7,000 Hong Kongers holding British National Overseas passports arrived in the U.K. since July last year.
They estimate hundreds of thousands more will request extended residency over the next few years.
According to Andrew Lo, founder of Anlex Immigration Consultants in Hong Kong, “Before the announcement of the BN(O) visa in July, we didn’t have many enquiries about U.K. immigration, maybe less than 10 a month… Now we receive about 10 to 15 calls a day asking about it,” AP reported.
This comes after restrictive National Security Laws implemented by the CCP in Hong Kong sparked mass pro-Democracy protests across the territory, resulting in hundreds of arrests and a crackdown on non-state run media.
Hong Kong became the center of international attention when China refused to back down from taking control of the area which has been free from the CCP’s grip for hundreds of years.
In 2019, Beijing violated its “one country, two systems” agreement with Britain, established when Hong Kong was handed back over to Chinese rule in the 90s.
Beginning in 1997, Britain required China to allow Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for the next 50 years, including retaining political and economic systems, which significantly differ from the mainland.
Beijing broke the agreement in 2019 when they implemented National Security Laws which effectively overhaul Hong Kong’s free way of life, limited the media, rescinded free speech, and criminalized protesting.
Since they proved they will not respect the “one country, two systems” agreement, Britain granted Hong Kongers a quick pathway to citizenship for those who want to escape the CCP’s takeover before it’s too late.
Prior to the pandemic, the Trump Administration and other countries said they were considering taking in refugees from Hong Kong.
However, under a Biden Administration, it is unclear whether America will also provide a pathway to citizenship for them – or if Biden will take a different approach to China.