‘It’s for my children’: Hong Kong people prepare to seize British offer of new life | World news

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This is not how Ms Lee imagined her middle age in Hong Kong: doing an anonymous interview, under a pseudonym, as she prepares to leave her home.

“I’m a traditional Hong Kong woman,” she told Sky News. “I believe there should be justice. ”

“I am not young. I am 48 years old and my husband is in his 50s. I have two children. It’s for my kids. ”

Ms Lee is among the hundreds, if not thousands, of Hong Kong residents who are preparing to leave the territory and accept the UK’s offer of a path to citizenship.

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Ms Lee fears for Hong Kong and plans to start over in Britain

Protests last year and Beijing’s imposition of a sweeping national security law this year have turned Ms. Lee and her family – her children of school age – into unlikely refugees.

Previously, she said she had been “a Hong Kong pig” – someone more concerned with her own good than with politics.

“If I didn’t have kids, I could stay here and be a comfortable pig in Hong Kong. I am already halfway through my life. But when I have children so young, they can’t be limited here. ”

“If I stay in Hong Kong, I will be a second or third class citizen. I will never have the right to vote [for the city’s leader]. And I will only have a Hong Kong passport.

“But if I have the opportunity to go to the UK and we contribute to society, then my children will be first class citizens because they will have a UK passport and the right to vote. ”

Ms Lee thinks she’s going to start a business in Manchester, possibly a restaurant.

“We appreciate that the UK has opened this door to us,” she said.

After Beijing imposed the National Security Law on Hong Kong, the British government made an offer to those eligible for a UK national passport (overseas) – that is, anyone born before the surrender of Hong Kong in 1997 and their dependents.

About three million people are eligible.

BNO citizens will be able to stay and work in the UK for five years. After another year, they will be allowed to apply for citizenship.

China has reacted angrily, accusing the UK of interfering in its internal affairs, and has threatened to stop recognizing BNO passports, though the actual implications of this are unclear.

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UK expressed “deep concern” over new security law

But that doesn’t have much of a deterrent effect on the people of Hong Kong.

Billy Wong, an immigration consultant, tells Sky News there has been a “massive” increase in demand.

He estimates that before the BNO’s policy change it would cost between £ 300,000 and £ 400,000 to move to the UK – most of the money needed for an innovator visa to start a business, the remainder for living expenses.

Now the total cost will be several thousand.

Mr Wong says it is easier for Hong Kong people to settle in the UK than in Taiwan, a traditional destination.

Immigration consultant Billy Wong sees 'massive' increase in demand
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Immigration consultant Billy Wong sees ‘massive’ increase in demand

“The threshold for immigration to the UK has always been quite high,” he told Sky News. “Now that BNO’s door is open… UK is becoming a better option, right on your doorstep. ”

But others are not moving – at least not yet.

Pong, a film and documentary maker, had a BNO passport but it expired over 10 years ago. He doesn’t plan to have another one.

Sky News asks him what it takes to leave Hong Kong.

BNO passport
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Offer open to anyone eligible for a UK National Passport (Overseas)
Filmmaker Pong says he's staying in Hong Kong - for now
Image:
Filmmaker Pong says he’s staying in Hong Kong – for now

“Maybe if the freedom of expression shrinks to the point that it affects my shooting and my creative production,” he says.

“If it gets so bad that my life is in danger, or I’m going to be arrested – then I might consider leaving.” ”

At that point, however, could he leave?

“It’s true,” he said. “If I wait until then, it might be too late. “

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