Pro-democracy Hong Kong politician Emily Lau told Euronews on Monday that Britain should give passports to Hong citizens if they need protection as violence between protesters and law enforcement escalated.
“I think they should think about it, because it’s Britain’s moral and political responsibility because these are British citizens, but they are British Nationals Overseas,” Lau said.
The Asian financial hub was handed over to China by former colonial ruler Britain in 1997. While it enjoys a degree of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” formula, it has been plunged into chaos for almost six months.
The European Union and the United States have condemned the escalating violence in Hong Kong on Monday amid fears of a bloody crackdown as authorities laid siege to a university campus occupied by pro-democracy demonstrators.
But Lau, who supports anti-government protests, wants the international community to go a step further.
“It’s disgraceful. These are British subjects. And many of them are very fearful and very anxious,” she told Euronews.
“Also the members of the European Union, the allies of Britain. I hope they will also help because Hong Kong is facing a deep crisis.”
Last September, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab ruled out a change in the status of British National Overseas (BNO) when he spoke in Parliament:
“Let me be clear about this issue of BNOs. The BNO status, which did not entitle the holders of those passports to a right of permanent residence in the UK, was part of the delicate balance and negotiations that were conducted and then concluded at the time of the joint declaration,” he said.
“We are seeking not to change the status of any one part of that package, but rather to press all sides, including the Chinese, to respect the delicate balance reflected in that package. That is why, for the moment, we will not change or alter the status of the BNOs, but we will make sure that, in terms of their rights and entitlements they are entitled to expect within that status, they have our full support,” he added.