Hong Kong Refugees in Britain: Tensions Escalate
UK’s immigration laws aren’t what you’d call receptive. Out of every 100 global immigrants, the UK is home to just 1.
This is set to change. UK prime minister Boris Johnson was quick to promise a pathway to nearly 3 million Hong Kong nationals, for living and working in the UK.
That’s after 30th June saw China’s controversial Hong Kong Security Act become law.
Great Britain Is, Finally, Showing Its Spine
Priti Patel, a senior cabinet minister said, “From the expulsion of Ugandan Asians from a repressive regime… to supporting campaigners fleeing political persecution in Hong Kong… under Conservative leadership, the United Kingdom has and always will provide sanctuary when the lights are being switched off on people’s liberties.”
The lights are indeed being put out in broad daylight for the citizens of Hong Kong. On October 1, as China was celebrating 70 years of Communist Party government when Hong Kong experienced one of the darkest days in the history of the human rights movement.
Citizens of Hong Kong had rallied in a peaceful demonstration voicing their rights for democracy. The situation of the protest took a U-turn when the police attacked the peaceful mass with tear shells, water cannons and the crowd answered by fighting back with poles and petrol bombs.
66 Hong Kongers were injured and an 18-year old was shot to death.
Prominent refugees in Britain have taken it upon themselves to protest against the Communist Party of China. They consider the CCP rule barbaric and draconian.
Simon Chang fled to the UK after he was detained and allegedly tortured by the CCP authorities. In an interview to The Guardian, he said, “I’ve gone from an ordinary person to be a frontline activist. I feel that the Chinese Communist Party pushed me that way, and there is no way back.”
A Bit of Background
The relationship between Hong-Kong and China has been tense since 1997. The Sino-British Joint Declaration was passed, and the UK released its control over Hong-Kong to China.
Back then, the People’s Republic of China agreed to what they called a “one country, two system” policy. This allowed Hong Kong a certain level of autonomy based on the Hong Kong Basic Law. The citizens of Hong Kong are entitled to certain rights like freedom of speech and the right to protest.
China’s Severe Want of Restraint – 2020 Is No Different
China has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2020. The Chinese government’s management of Covid-19 was surreptitious at best.
The Covid-19 pandemic is raging on, and the USA and European countries are reeling from high mortality rates and an unabating spread of the virus.
China has, sadly, tried to make hay while the world has been whining. Its aggression towards Hong Kong is ample testimony.
And the aggression hasn’t evaded the eyes of world leaders.
President Trump had pledged protection to Hong Kong against China. However, his words are turning out to be nothing but empty promises.
The relationship between Taiwan and China is also tense when it comes to the Hong Kong issue. Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu expressed concern. He argued that Beijing could use its claim on Taiwan to try to attack it. Every shred of illusion about any friendly relationship between the CCP and Taiwan has now torn away.
The Indo-China conflict has also reached its height. 60,000 Chinese soldiers are now deployed on the LAC border. Neither of the countries seems interested or effective in disengagement or disarmament.
2020 – The Year UK-China Relations Underwent A Much-Needed Re-Calibration
Within 2020, the UK has criticized China on many grounds.
Before opening borders to Hong Kong, the UK-Beijing relationship had already deteriorated when the UK banned Huawei from taking part in 5G tenders.
However, Britain has to be circumspect in its retaliations. It is under many forces of pressure.
It is heavily reliant on China for the supply of ventilators and PPEs. Defying China is not an easy task for Britain, especially if the nation wishes to depend on China for equipment essential for saving its citizens lives. On the other hand, adopting pro-China policies would increase tensions with the USA.
The decision to let in Hong Kong refugees was a cause of international pressure rather than a show of goodwill, as many suggested. Britain continues to be vulnerable, being under the watchful eye of both USA and China.
Britain’s decision to not succumb to the aggressive policies of China has given the chance to many countries to come out against the many flaws of CCP. Many citizens of the UK wish their government to adopt a stance towards China that is as strong as Trump’s.
It’s Far From Over – UK-China Friction Demands Deft Handling
Britain stands strong in offering asylum to Hong Kong. Already the second-largest exporter of arms worldwide, Britain has taken steps to buy more warcraft, weapons and planes. On the other hand, China has a weapon far deadlier than atom bombs, i.e. information. It can collect personal information to use for hacking systems. With the amount of information that China possesses, it can make or break the government.
Besides, China owns almost 40% of dollars in circulation. With this money, it has started countless development projects in South Asia. Countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are neck-deep in debt from China. So, in case of any conflict with China, the enemy in question has to deal with nuclear-armed Pakistan as well.
Right now, a strong suit that Britain retains is its cultural heritage and immense wealth accumulated over centuries. The educational institutions of Britain are still some of the best in the world.
These institutes are the turnstile that Chinese students hope to brush by and step into a liberal future. There are hundreds of thousands of Chinese students in Britain. Having experienced living in a democratic country, they are beginning to raise their voices against the atrocious activities of their government. Britain considers it her duty to protect the interests of these students.
Britain has an extra duty towards the residents of Hong Kong. Call it the debt of the empire. Britain relinquished control of Hong Kong in 1997 to China. Britain had promised democracy to Hong Kong. What exists in Hong Kong is a farce in the name of democracy. Right now, the only thing Britain can do for the citizens of Hong Kong is to provide them sanctuary from the Orwellian regime.
The many different trade and aid policies being pursued by China globally have been heavily criticised but can developing countries become more independent or will China’s policy reform?