İrem UZUN -TDO- The UK will extend visa rights for as many as 300,000 Hong Kong British national (overseas) (BNO) passport holders if China continues down the path of imposing repressive security laws on the former British colony, the foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said.
British National (Overseas) passports were issued to people in Hong Kong by the UK before the transfer of the territory to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Announcing the possible change in policy, Raab said the six-month limit on stays in the UK for BNO holders would be scrapped. "If China continues down this path and implements this national security legislation, we will remove that six month limit and allow those BNO passport holders to come to the UK and to apply to work and study for extendable periods of 12 months and that will itself provide a pathway to future citizenship," he said. The proposal has been squared with the home secretary, Priti Patel, and the prime minister’s office, but details still need fleshing out.
China's proposed national security law has been met with protests in Hong Kong and criticism internationally. Observers warn that it could curtail many of the fundamental civil liberties guaranteed in the transition from British to Chinese rule. In a video shared on Twitter, UK's Foreign Secretary Raab urged China to "step back from the brink and to live up to its international obligations."