UK unveils $59M fund to support Hong Kongers as protest leader Nathan Law granted asylum
April 08, 2021 at 04:40
Hong Kong (CNN) The United Kingdom has unveiled a £43 million ($59 million) fund to support Hong Kongers emigrating to the country under a new scheme for holders of British National (Overseas) passports .
UK BN(O) scheme angers BeijingBN(O) holders were granted a special status in the 1980s, but for decades the document did not give them the right to work or live in the UK.
That changed last year, after Beijing's imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong, which banned secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces.
Last month, Beijing passed a new election law for Hong Kong , further limiting the right of people in the city to choose their leaders.
In turn, Beijing has accused London of acting illegally by providing a pathway to citizenship for Hong Kongers under the BN(O) scheme.
The Beijing and Hong Kong governments have said they will no longer recognize BN(O) passports as a valid travel document, though most holders also hold Hong Kong or other passports, so the effect of this will be limited.
Protest leader Nathan Law granted asylumWhile millions of Hong Kongers are eligible for BN(O) status, many of the younger protesters who took part in anti-government unrest which rocked the city in 2019 and attracted worldwide attention will have been born too late.
In the past year, authorities have begun rounding up and prosecuting those suspected of protest-related offenses, while other protest leaders and activists have been charged under the national security law.
Hong Kong democracy activist Nathan Law (C) takes part in a demonstration on September 1, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.
"The fact that I am wanted under the National Security Law shows that I am exposed to severe political persecution and am unlikely to return to Hong Kong without risk," Law said on Twitter.
"My situation, however, may not apply to all Hong Kong asylum seekers.
Law said he hoped the Home Office would "consider more comprehensive evidence" in cases involving Hong Kong protesters, so as to enable more to claim asylum in the UK.