Dominic Raab has said the government will provide a “pathway to citizenship” to certain Hong Kong nationals if China goes ahead with proposed national security laws.
The British National Overseas passport (BNO) arrangements for people in Hong Kong currently entitle holders to visa-free entry to the UK for up to six months as visitors.
But the Foreign Secretary told the Commons today that the government will scrap the six-month limit - allowing holders to apply to study and work for extendable 12 month periods - if China imposes a controversial new law on the territory.
Hong Kong was handed back to China from British colonial rule on the condition that the territory maintained certain rights that do not exist on mainland China.
The new law, if passed, would make it a crime to undermine Beijing’s authority in Hong Kong, which many worry will risk Hong Kong’s freedoms.
WATCH: Dominic Raab says the UK would 'strongly oppose' China's proposed new law
Mr Raab denounced such a move and said: “It would up-end China’s one country, two systems paradigm and it would be a clear violation of China’s international obligations.”
He told MPs: “I hope the whole House agrees that we as the United Kingdom have historic responsibilities, a duty I would say, to the people of Hong Kong.
“The UK will not just look the other way when it comes to the people of Hong Kong. We will stand by them, we will live up to our responsibilities.”
Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy called for the UK government to “step up” on the issue and provide the “leadership that the world needs”.
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