British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday, June 3 that he hopes to admit 3 million Hong Kong residents into the UK in response to repressive measures imposed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) through a new national security law on the territory.
Johnson announced in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post that 350,000 city residents holding British foreign passports, as well as some 2.5 million people who meet the applicant profile, will be eligible for a 12-month renewable issue to live in the UK.
The British prime minister’s opinion column referred to the recent security law imposed by Beijing on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which allegedly seeks to prohibit secession, terrorism, and foreign intervention, seriously threatening its autonomy.
The CCP’s political interference in the administrative region has become more apparent. Today, Thursday, the Hong Kong Parliament approved a controversial law that punishes anyone who dares to insult the national anthem with up to three years in prison.
The session in which the measure was approved, which is described as another attempt by the CCP to end the semi-autonomy of the British ex-colony, was interrupted for a few hours due to the intervention of an opposition member of Parliament.
Meanwhile, Johnson said the “alternative” for Hong Kongers who fear “losing their lifestyle” under the threat of the CCP could clear the way for British citizenship, but so far the British prime minister has not offered details.
“Many people in Hong Kong fear their way of life—which China [the CCP] pledged to uphold—is under threat. If the CCP proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away; instead we will honor our obligations and provide an alternative,” Johnson wrote.
“I hope it will not come to this. I still hope that China will remember that responsibilities go hand in glove with strength and leadership,” he added.
In the opinion column, Johnson stressed that Hong Kong’s success is due to its people being free, able to follow their dreams, and able to climb as high as their talents will allow. He said Hong Kongers can debate and share new ideas under the cover of freedom of expression.
He said the problem with the new law is that instead of allowing Hong Kong to govern itself through its institutions, it increasingly restricts its freedoms, recalling that the conflict stems from the joint Sino-British declaration signed in 1997, which granted Hong Kong and its citizens some autonomy after it ceased to be a British colony.
Johnson’s statements in the Hong Kong newspaper also aroused the indignation of the CCP, which, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, criticized the United Kingdom saying that it should abandon its colonial and Cold War mentality.
“The UK has recklessly commented on Hong Kong and made groundless accusations to interfere in Hong Kong affairs,” Deputy Director of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department Zhao Lijian said in a statement.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam was also outraged by the prime minister’s comments after accusing foreign critics, such as the United States, of being “two-faced” in supporting protests in Hong Kong but not in her own country.
According to Fox News, the massive protests in Hong Kong were reactivated approximately two weeks ago after the National People’s Congress passed the repressive bill that seeks to criminalize anti-government movements.