British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a video call on March 19 with four families of Hong Kong people who have come to settle in Britain through the British National (Overseas) Passport (BNO) visa program. Johnson told these representatives of Hong Kong people coming to the U.K., “I want to say on behalf of the whole country that we are delighted that you are here and we are proud that you have chosen to live in the U.K.”
A statement issued Friday by the Prime Minister’s official residence said, “Today, the Prime Minister made a video call with four British National (Overseas) families from Hong Kong who have come to the U.K. following the implementation of the National Security Act, which provides BN(O) status holders with a pathway to British citizenship. Since the end of January, BN(O) status holders and their families have been able to formally apply for visas and in that Time we have received 27,000 applications from people wishing to come to the UK to pursue a new Life.”
The statement said, “The families the Prime Minister spoke to this afternoon have all travelled to the UK in the last year and are living and working across the UK. They discussed with the Prime Minister their motivations for leaving Hong Kong and their experiences since coming to the UK.” The statement continued, “During the call, the Prime Minister said to the families, I want to say on behalf of the whole country, we are delighted that you are here and we are proud that you have chosen to live in the UK.”
Johnson said, “I firmly believe in the prospects that Britain can offer those who want to live here, and I have no doubt that you will feel right at Home. Britain has a long and proud history of welcoming those who come to our shores seeking the inalienable rights and freedoms they were denied in their homeland. I am proud that we are able to offer this service to you and other BN(O) status holders.”
The statement said, “The (British) side proposed this measure to BN(O) status holders after the Chinese government imposed national security laws in Hong Kong last year, in violation of its commitments under international law. The visa reflects the UK’s historical and moral commitment to Hong Kong people whose rights and freedoms are restricted. Since February, Hong Kong BN(O) status holders with certain biometric passports have been able to use a smartphone App to scan their passports rather than visit a visa center to apply for a visa, the first time non-EEA passport holders have been able to use this technology to apply for a visa, which is another step in the digitization of the UK’s immigration system.”
The statement said, “In addition to the BN(O) visa concession, the UK has taken a range of measures to tackle Hong Kong’s restrictions on freedom, including raising human rights abuses with international partners, suspending the extradition treaty with Hong Kong and extending the arms embargo on mainland China to Hong Kong.”
The Johnson administration recently released one of the largest post-Cold War assessment reviews of British foreign and defense policy. The 114-page report defines Russia as a “hostile state” and identifies China as a “systemic competitor.” On the day of the report’s release, several senior Conservative lawmakers criticized the report for its naivety and weak policies on China, and the Johnson administration was under pressure from within the party.