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UK-China relations sour further over Hong Kong

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Bianca Rahimi
Press TV, London

Relations between China and the UK soured in 2020 and things aren't improving in 2021. From the 31st of January millions of Hong Kong nationals will be able to apply for an exclusive UK visa that will pave their way to British citizenship. Hundreds of thousands are expected to take up the offer in the first 5 years, but both China and Hong Kong say this offer violates the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

In July 2020, following the enforcement of new national security laws on Hong Kong by China, the UK announced plans to expand visa rights to Hong Kong residents who claimed British National (Overseas), or BN(O), status before Britain handed over its former colony in 1997. Until recently, BN(O) passports did not give Hong Kong citizens the right of residence in the UK, but number 10 has now changed the rules.

China and Hong Kong says this violates the SINO-British declaration that paves the way for Hong Kong to return to Chinese rule. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says the BN(O)  is a form of travel document, not a form of nationality.

UK-China relations deteriorated in 2020. The UK banned Chinese telecom giant Huawei from the buildout of the UK’s 5G network. It put forward a proposal to screen and block certain mergers and acquisitions from Chinese investors on national security grounds. And as a former colonial power decided to throw its weight around, declaring China’s new national security laws on Hong Kong to be a breach of the SINO-British Joint Declaration.

UK slams new national security laws on Hong Kong as breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. On this pretext number 10 is offering almost three-quarters of Hong Kong’s population a fast-track route to British citizenship, stoking fears of a brain drain in the city, especially in its healthcare system.

England alone has tens of thousands of vacancies for registered nurses and the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the NHS’s staffing crisis into the spotlight. Brexit has made sourcing them from Europe much more difficult, and strict immigration policies also make recruitment from abroad a challenge.


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