According to BBC, “the UK could offer British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong a path to citizenship if China does not suspend plans for a security law in the territory, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says.“.
Well, China did approve the security law. Let’s now see the reaction of the United Kingdom. But even now, we can already analyze what the options are.
THE UK DOESN’T INTEND TO OFFER CITIZENSHIP TO BN(O) PASSPORT HOLDERS
The UK is again trying to present itself as the good guy. What Mr Raab has actually said is that:
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.
So this actually means that BN(O) passport holders will be eventually only allowed to work and study for period(s) of 12 months. Please note the wording – apply. Didn’t we all expect Mr Raab to at least say that BN(O) passport holders should be allowed to work and study? That would mean that indeed, new rights would have been granted. But to apply? The right to apply? Colonial mentality anyone?
No citizenship rights on the horizon for BN(O) Hongkongers
But Mr Raab goes even further in his hypocrisy. He claims that these new rights (in fact only the right to apply to work or study for 12 months), would pave the path to future citizenship. No, not that this is not right. On the contrary, it is indeed so that any stay in any country may eventually transform to citizenship in (very distant) future. But this is such a ridiculous statement. With the same logic, Mr Raab could have also stated that this would eventually provide a pathway to winning the British national lottery. This would have been true to the same extend, as those living in the UK play the lottery more often than those who live elsewhere.
The right to apply to work to save the social benefits of the “real” Britons
So in fact, the UK has no plans whatsoever to grant BN(O) passport holders citizenship rights. It only intends to eventually, if China doesn’t behave, allow some of the more “privileged” Hongkongers to apply to work and study in the country. Luckily, eastern European citizens have much more rights and don’t need to apply to work in the UK. Otherwise the UK crops would have rotten in the fields of Britain. With their eventual future “rights” to apply to work in the UK, the Hongkongers may be well the intended new saviors of the UK agricultural industry.
UK citizenship for Hongkongers – not possible even if the UK really wanted it
The sad end of the story with the BN(O) passport holders inability to be treated equally with UK citizens comes from the agreement that the UK has signed with China when HK was handed over to the mainland. As per this agreement, only UK citizens and certain Commonwealth citizens have the right of abode in the UK. Giving BN(O) holders full citizenship would be a breach of the agreement.
THE UK HAS ALREADY LOST ITS CHANCE TO GRANT UK CITIZENSHIP TO HONGKONGERS
When Britain’s last Governor to Hong Kong Chris Patten, handed its colony back to China, the UK had a magnificent opportunity to grant full UK citizenship to at least some of the Hongkongers. Instead, UK opted to create one of the biggest controversy in the world’s history – the BN(O) passport.
The passport with no host country – British National (Overseas) citizenship
This was the last nail in the coffin of those who believed that Britain respected the people of Hong Kong. Please read our article about the crisis in Hong Kong and the “politicization” of citizenship.
ALL BN(O) PASSPORT HOLDERS MAY BE EVENTUALLY DEPRIVED OF THEIR HKSAR CITIZENSHIP
It’s obvious that Britain can not allow BN(O) citizenship to transform somehow to full UK citizenship. However, in the current realms of the covid-19 crisis and the tensions between China and the West, what if the UK provided some “far reaching” rights to the BN(O) citizens?
The Chinese counter-measures
As China already stated, it reserves the right to take “counter-measures” against the UK. So what could these counter-measures entail? The most logical, the safest and the easiest would be cancelling the HKSAR citizenship of those who also hold BN(O) passports. And then there would be 2 options possible: giving ex-HKSAR+BN(O) citizens regular Chinese passports or not giving them anything. The latter option would in fact transform the ex-KHSAR+BN(O) citizens to stateless persons. They will still have BN(O) citizenship, but no right of permanent abode anywhere in the world.
The new blue-collars in UK
And under this dark scenario, the only beneficiary would be the endless green strawberry fields of Britain. There will be cheap labor, after the eastern Europeans gained too many rights and started demanding more for their hard work. And of course, the (mainland) Chinese won’t have reasons to complain of strawberries shortage when watching Novak Djokovic at the Wimbledon.
UK IS NOT IN THE EU ANYMORE
Britain left the EU and it lost the most important that it had – free access to the huge market of the European Union and free unrestricted movement of people and capitals. Britons are now considered “foreigners” in the EU. The value of the UK passport is believed to have dropped 10-fold already. Believe it or not, but since it became evident that Brexit will happen, our offices have been stormed by Britons willing to get hold of Bulgarian citizenship. The interest from Hongkongers is understandably even higher.
WE ALL NEED FREEDOM
At the end, we all want and need one thing most of all – FREEDOM. And freedom is also having the right passport to travel and settle with. We all need the right of abode in as many (democratic) countries as possible.
BN(O), HKSAR and even UK passports don’t provide those anymore.
Please take the time to check the Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment program. Don’t forget to regularly check the updates to the program for 2020 and onward, as well as the specialized section for citizens of Hong Kong.
For any questions you may have, please don’t hesitate to contact us.