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UK’s Johnson to Relax Visa Rules for Hong Kongers If Beijing Proceeds With Security Law

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in his op-ed article, published in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post on 3 June, that the United Kingdom was ready to alter the immigration system to allow an eased path to immigration and UK citizenship for Hong Kong residents if China enforced its security legislation for the city.

"If China imposes its national security law, the British government will change our immigration rules and allow any holder of these passports from Hong Kong to come to the UK for a renewable period of 12 months and be given further immigration rights, including the right to work, which could place them on a route to citizenship", Johnson's article read.

The prime minister noted that the aforementioned 350,000 Hong Kongers would be allowed to stay in the United Kingdom for six months without a visa, adding that another 2.5 million would be eligible to apply for them.

"This would amount to one of the biggest changes in our visa system in British history. If it proves necessary, the British government will take this step and take it willingly", Johnson added.

The minister noted that he expected China to be committed to international agreements and vowed that the United KIngdom would continue to raise this issue on global platforms.

"If China proceeds, this would be in direct conflict with its obligations under the Joint Declaration, a legally binding treaty registered with the United Nations", the article read.

An activist holds a British passport while standing in front of placards carrying a message using International Code of Signals (ICS) flags, during a gathering outside the British Consulate-General building in Hong Kong on August 21, 2019 - Sputnik International
Hong Kong: UK Threatens to Change Arrangements for BNO Holders if China Enacts Security Bill
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has said in response to London's statement that Beijing reserves the right to take the necessary measures if the UK changes visa rules for Hong Kong residents holding BNO passports.

The Chinese parliament passed a resolution last week, under which the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress will be in charge of developing a national security law for Hong Kong that bans secessionist and subversive activity. In response to the legislation, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in parliament on Tuesday that China's impending law clearly violated its obligations to London and the world, adding that some 350,000 Hong Kong residents who hold British National Overseas (BNO) passports would be provided with a pathway to UK citizenship in this case.

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