UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that the UK Foreign Office had received approximately 90,000 relocation requests from Hong Kong residents holding British National (Overseas) passports.
In January, the United Kingdom, which controlled Hong Kong until 1997, extended an offer of resettlement and eventual full citizenship to holders of BN(O) passports and their dependents in response to a sweeping national security law that most observers say allows Beijing to crack down on dissenting voices.
“By the end of September, 88,000 people had applied for visas under this scheme. On behalf of the government, I welcome them warmly to the UK,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wrote in a new UK government report on Hong Kong.
“The erosion of liberty in Hong Kong is an affront to freedom and democracy” she wrote in a tweet announcing the report, which is published every six months.
When the resettlement plan was first revealed, UK officials predicted that up to 154,000 Hong Kong residents could seek to relocate in the first year, with up to 322,000 more in the following five years.
Following Beijing’s announcement that the BN(O) passport would no longer be recognized as a legal document, the UK scheme was implemented.
A poll conducted by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford earlier this year found that nearly one-third of BN(O) passport holders were considering relocating to the UK.