Britain has started accepting applications for its program to hand out British Overseas Visas to eligible Hong Kongers, and as the first of what could become millions apply, Beijing is less than pleased, and is once again lashing out. The CCP was so enraged by the UK’s challenge to China’s geopolitical power that it barred visitors holding UK passports last week, and on Sunday they slammed London’s decision as “the logic of a brazen bandit.”
The CCP accused London of breaking promises made during the handover to Hong Kong, which is ironic considering China was supposed to allow Hong Kong to enjoy its Democratic freedoms under the “One Country, Two Systems” doctrine, which is in effect, legally speaking, until 2047.
London’s offer of a path to citizenship for some 5.2MM Hong Kongers follows Beijing’s imposition of a National Security law that outlawed any talk “secessionist” or “foreign-influenced” activity. Demands for western style Democracy seemed to be at the top of the new list of forbidden topics. The NatSec law followed months of unrest in Hong Kong, which had finally started to die down before COVID-19 rocked the world after escaping from Wuhan.
In a statement released shorty after the UK opened up the applications, a cabinet-level Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office issued a “strong condemnation” of the move, accusing London of trying to turn millions of Hong kongers into “second-class citizens (kind of like China is doing with the Uyghers?).
Essentially, Beijing repeated Beijing’s own accusations and insults right back at it.
The office said the policy amounted to a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a treaty signed by both countries in 1984 which set out the ground rules for Hong Kong’s development after its return to China in 1997. “The British side did not keep its promise…and even brazenly claim it was out of its respect for its historical relationship and friendship with Hong Kong to beautify its history of invasion and colonisation,” it said.“This is the logic of a brazen bandit. This is an open affront to the sovereignty of China. We sternly oppose that.” Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong also accused Britain of violating China’s sovereignty and international law.
Britain first announced the plan back in July. At the time, many educated and wealthier workers said they fully intended to leave HK and possibly never come back. It’s not clear so far how many have signed up. Many Hong Kongers told the SCMP they would wait until Feb. 23 when the British government has said it would build a smartphone app.
Some families told the SCMP they were torn between wanting to leave, but lackling a plan for how to make money and survive once they arrive.