Hong Kong

U.K. Welcomes Hongkongers Fleeing Chinese Tyranny

The U.S. should do the same.


China is crushing Hong Kong. A new national security law and a crackdown on dissident activists are just the latest steps in the dismantling of "one country, two systems," the framework that was supposed to guarantee the freedoms that made Hong Kong a thriving global city.

As the world watches, Britain looks on with an especially keen sense of responsibility.

When the British handed Hong Kong to China in 1997, Chris Patten, the colony's last governor, said: "Hong Kong people are to run Hong Kong. That is the promise. That is the unshakable destiny." The clampdown suggests otherwise. As China reneges on its agreement with Britain, the U.K. clearly failed in its duty to safeguard Hongkongers' freedom.

In an encouraging sign that it has not forgotten its obligations to the city, the British government has now opened up a route to citizenship for nearly 3 million Hong Kong residents.

Before the handover, Hong Kong residents were able to register for special passports, called British national (overseas) passports, giving them a limited set of rights, including the ability to visit the U.K. for six months.

On Thursday, U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced that, unless Beijing reversed the new security law, these passport holders would be able to come to Britain for an initial 12-month period that could be extended to "provide a pathway to future citizenship." The option initially seemed to be available only to the 350,000 Hongkongers who currently hold such passports. A day later, the government made clear it was proposing something far more radical: a path to full British citizenship for the nearly three million Hong Kong residents who were born before 1997 and thus were eligible to apply for the passports.

By allowing Hongkongers to vote with their feet, Britain isn't just offering a new home to the wealth creators of a city more prosperous than Beijing or Shanghai. It's fighting totalitarianism with freedom. The move makes no British claims over Hong Kong. Unlike economic sanctions, which often do the most damage to those they are designed to help, the offer of citizenship would materially improve the choices available to those in Hong Kong. And the revealed preferences of hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers offered a freer life in Britain would be more powerful than even the slickest state-backed propaganda touting the merits of the Chinese model.

No wonder China is furious. Beijing said it would "resolutely oppose" the move and threatened "appropriate countermeasures."

Beyond the geopolitical consequences, the domestic implications for the U.K. could be sweeping. A paper published by the Adam Smith Institute last year cites the precedent of the nearly 30,000 British passport holders of South Asian descent who Idi Amin expelled from Uganda in the 1970s. Those arrivals have been one of Britain's most socially and economically successful immigrant cohorts. The same would surely be true of the potentially far larger group of arrivals from Hong Kong, a dynamic place with strong cultural ties to Britain.

Coming shortly after Britain's departure from the European Union, this offer is also a reminder that Brexit needn't mean the U.K. will turn inwards. As it finds a new place for itself in the world, sticking up for freedom in Hong Kong—the place where the sun finally set on the British Empire—seems like a good place to start.

NEXT: Riots May Be Destructive, but Abusive Policing Is Tyranny

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Why does the UK have any restriction on immigration? Diversity makes them stronger!

    1. I Make Money At H0me.Let’s start work offered by Google!!Yes,this is definitely the most financially rewarding Job I’ve had . Last Monday I bought a great Lotus Elan after I been earning $9534 this-last/5 weeks and-a little over, $10k last month . .QSd I started this four months/ago and immediately started to bring home minimum $97 per/hr

      Heres what I do……………….► Online Jobs Provid

  2. a path to full British citizenship for the nearly three million Hong Kong residents who were born before 1997 and thus were eligible to apply for the passports.

    If they were born before 7/1/1997, the argument could be made that they’re part of the British empire. The US has no ties like this.

    That being said, anything that pulls intellectual capital away from China is a good thing.

    1. Why? If China is going to change, it needs smart people to make it happen.

      1. Make money online from home extra cash more than $18k to $21k. Start getting paid every month Thousands Dollars online. I have received $26K in this month by just working online from home in my part time.every person easily do this job by just open this link and follow details on this page to get started… Continue Reading

  3. Hong Kong refugees can only change Britain for the better, quite frankly.

    1. Will then enact more speech codes and anti-hate crime laws?

      1. The one group of refugees you can count on is that fleeing communist oppression. Unless of course that communism is California. Unlike everyone else, they want to bring it with them.

        1. Is that why Mexican refugees fleeing Mexico are pro-2nd Amendment?

        2. Well, there is fleeing communist oppressors, and there is fleeing the dysfunction that comes from oppression. Guess which one the Cali refugees are doing.

    2. There are @ 7 million people of Hong Kong,what happens to the 4 million left behind ??

      1. Free education camp?

  4. Congratulations on escaping Tyranny. Now we’ll show you what, proper, well-mannered and civilized tyranny looks like.

  5. Yes….but for Pete’s sake, be choosy about whom you let in. But I am all for skimming the best and brightest for America.

    Self-sufficient STEM graduates, physicians, engineers, chemists, biologists are welcome. The rest, well, the UK has opened their doors. They were after all, the former ruler of Hong Kong. That number we pass on would include lawyers, gardeners, and any academic in the social sciences.

    1. I know someone who has made a very nice living from a landscaping business around here. The business is dying because he cannot find workers and he is willing to pay top rates.

      Doctors, it takes years to get a US license. You can bring in residents as J-1 but even then it takes a year or more to jump through those hoops.

      Lawyers, heh, well we don’t need more of those but I think the legal barriers are steep.

      Saw some articles recently about how the U.K. is suffering from lack of farm workers, things like plumbing and other building trades. They were getting a lot from Eastern Europe who would come in to work.

      Central planning never works. It is why socialism always fails.

      “Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends. And whoever has sole control of the means must also determine which ends are to be served, which values are to be rated higher and which lower, in short, what men should believe and strive for.”
      ― Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

      1. Echospinner….nice to hear from you. Chag Semeach Shavuot!

        Listen, I get what you’re saying but I think in this instance, we’ll have to limp along without some extra lawyers, gardeners or sociologists. We have plenty of cheap imported labor already, so I am thinking we go higher end now. 🙂

  6. Those migrating from the PRC to Hong Kong were strongly vetted by the CCP and were determined to be strong supporters of the Party. It was until very recently considered a great benefit to live and work in Hong Kong, so moving there was granted by the government as a reward.
    The US and UK might consider not allowing anyone who moved there after 1997 any preferential treatment for refugee status.

    1. If they’re abandoning the CCP for the West the more the merrier. It would help tip the scales against central planning.

  7. In an encouraging sign that it has not forgotten its obligations to the city,

    Uh, if I promise to never let squatters into your house and when squatters move into your house and forcibly evict you, let you sleep on my couch, I’m not exactly keeping good on my promise.

    1. They failed their obligation, but they didn’t forget it. :^)

  8. Flee Hong Kong!

  9. We know Beijing wants bodies to rule over. We should offer them a swap: we’ll take the productive Hong Kongers who hate Communism and we’ll give them our spongers and leftists who think Communism is the answer. Everybody wins, everybody’s happy!

    1. After we deport Congress (spongers and Leftists), then what? 🙂

      1. Profit

    2. You deserve a damned Nobel prize sir.

    3. A protester exchange program. I love it!

  10. “U.K. Welcomes Hongkongers Fleeing Chinese Tyranny
    The U.S. should do the same.”

    You got that right.
    America should take in all the Hong Kong people who want to stop being a puppet of the PRC.
    In return, we give the PRC all our progressives who are more than happy to be a slave on Beijing’s plantation.
    It’s a win-win deal.

    1. Set up a funding page!

  11. The US should open its borders to all who wish to (and are able to) come here. Just not carrying/bringing weapons or ammunition.
    That’ll do.

    1. You don’t pay a lot in taxes, do you?

  12. Change Your Life Right Now! Work From Comfort Of Your Home And Receive Your First Paycheck Within A Week. No Experience Needed, No Boss Over Your Shoulder.ut.. Say Goodbye To Your Old Job! Limited Number Of Spots Open…

    Find out how HERE……. Buzz11.com

  13. No mention about how the security law is about keeping Neocon NGO’s out of HK. The so called Democracy riots were supported by US not from love of “Democracy”, but to keep out foreign interference and funding.
    Several western countries and Russia have similar laws.

  14. Sorry, the Chinese, not the West, obviously want to keep out foreign interference. Oh, BTW, Hong Kong is now much more crony capitalist than pure capitalist like under British Rule

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.