Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson said in an article published on South China Morning Post, June 3, that “since the handover in 1997, the key has been the precious concept of ‘one country, two systems’, enshrined in Hong Kong’s Basic Law and underpinned by the Joint Declaration signed by Britain and China.”
However, Johnson said “last month, the National People’s Congress in Beijing decided to impose a national security law on Hong Kong, which would curtail its freedoms and dramatically erode its autonomy.”
He said that currently, around 350,000 people in Hong Kong hold British National Overseas passports and another 2.5 million would be eligible to apply for them. “At present, these passports allow visa-free access to the United Kingdom for up to six months,” he said.
“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,” Johnson added. “Britain would then have no choice but to uphold our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong.”
“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,” he added.
“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,” the UK Prime Minister said.