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Boris Johnson promises UK will provide Hong Kongers path to citizenship after national security fears

June 3, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

A British Union Jack flag is displayed as protesters gather along a fenced-off Victoria Harbour pier in Hong Kong, late on June 28, 2019, before midnight, when China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) will automatically be granted control of the pier under a 1994 British and Chinese agreement. - Hong Kong protesters called for G20 nations to confront fellow member China over sliding freedoms in the financial hub. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to provide a path to British citizenship for potentially millions of Hong Kongers, as China prepares to impose a draconian new national security law on the city.

Hong Kong (CNN)British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to provide a path to British citizenship for potentially millions of Hong Kongers, as China prepares to impose a draconian new national security law on the city.

That law, Johnson said in an op-ed published in the South China Morning Post Wednesday, "would curtail (Hong Kong's) freedoms and dramatically erode its autonomy," contravening the Sino-British Joint Declaration which laid the groundwork for the city's handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

The new system, Johnson said, will "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. "

"All Chinese compatriots residing in Hong Kong are Chinese nationals, whether or not they are holders of the British Dependent Territories Citizens passport or the British National (Overseas) passport," spokesman Zhao Lijian said last week.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration took this even further, creating for those born in British Hong Kong the new category of British National (Overseas), which did not confer the right of abode and effectively made them citizens in name only, while providing limited benefits such as easier travel to the UK and other parts of the world.

Speaking to CNN before Johnson's announcement this week, Samantha Chan, a 27-year-old Hong Konger, said she saw her BNO passport more as a backup travel document, in case the city one day faces the same visa restrictions as residents of the Chinese mainland.

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