British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the United Kingdom will consider revisions in its immigration rules, giving more Hong Kong residents a path to residency and citizenship, amid China’s plan to impose a new national security law in the city.
“If China imposes its national security law, the British government will change our immigration rules,” Johnson wrote in an opinion piece published in the South China Morning Post on Wednesday.
Johnson’s column in the paper was published as Hong Kong continues to clamp down on dissent and pro-democracy activities, including the prohibition, for the first time, of the annual June 4 vigil honouring victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. A controversial bill that will criminalize “disrespect” of China’s national anthem is also due for a second reading in the territory’s legislature on Wednesday.
Since Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, Johnson said that “the key has been the precious concept of ‘one country, two systems’, enshrined in city’s Basic Law and the Joint Declaration signed by Britain and China”.
He said imposing the national security law “would be in direct conflict with (China’s) obligations under the Joint Declaration, a legally binding treaty registered with the United Nations.”
Johnson warned that what Beijing was proposing in Hong Kong “would curtail its freedoms and dramatically erode its autonomy”.
In response, Johnson said that “if necessary”, the British government would take steps to welcome more Hong Kong residents to the UK.
“This would amount to one of the biggest changes in our visa system in British history,” he wrote.