Beijing has claimed the UK wants to make Hong Kongers “second-class citizens” with its British national (overseas) (BNO) visa scheme, after new figures showed almost 90,000 people have applied from the former British colony to resettle in the UK.
“[I]in flagrant violation of its international commitment, the UK tries to turn many Hong Kong residents into ‘second-class citizens’ in the UK and reap benefit from this,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a weekly press conference on Wednesday.
Around 88,000 Hong Kongers have applied for the new visa pathway to the UK in the first nine months since its launch, according to a report by the UK foreign office released on Tuesday.
The BNO resettlement visa scheme, which began in January, was introduced as part of the UK’s response to Beijing’s imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong last June, which has since been used by local authorities to stamp out political dissent and calls of democracy.
Chinese and Hong Kong officials have argued that the law is necessary to restore order and stability, but long queues of travellers leaving for the UK have been seen at Hong Kong airport in months following the law’s imposition.
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