The British government announced that an online visa program for Hong Kong nationals holding British National (overseas) passports to live and work in the United Kingdom came into effect on Sunday, Jan. 31. After five years of living in the country, they could apply for British citizenship, Breitbart reported.

The program is in response to the implementation of the national security law in 2020 with which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began its crackdown on anyone expressing an opinion considered dissident, even if they do not reside on the island but the country they live in has an extradition agreement with China.

The biggest problem with the application of this law is that it is the CCP that interprets the limits of the law, and it also has authority over the entire Hong Kong judicial system, which is equivalent to a Gestapo-like office, as it has no oversight and only serves one purpose: to eliminate different or critical opinions.

In 1997, when the British government agreed to hand the island back to the CCP, it was done under the agreement that Hong Kong would retain certain freedoms for 50 years that do not exist in mainland China. The imposition of the security law broke the historic agreement with the UK.

At the time, Hong Kongers wanted to maintain British citizenship as a guarantee against the imminent threat of Chinese Communist Party authoritarianism, but the CCP opposed it.

The British visa program for islanders is an indication that Hong Kong is in the grip of authoritarianism.

Although the program reaches some 56 million Hong Kongers who were born before 1997, the British government expects to receive about 300,000 over a five-year period.

The move angered the CCP, which announced it would no longer recognize British passports as valid travel documents.

As Hong Kongers normally use their national passports to leave the country, Chinese authorities are expected to seek to block people from leaving.

Since the implementation of the law in July 2020, at least 733,000 Hong Kongers applied for British passports, a 300% increase on the previous year.

The British government’s offer requires applicants and their families to be financially solvent for at least six months to qualify for a visa.