Thousands of Hong Kongers Have Already Applied for UK Visa Under New Scheme

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Thousands of Hong Kongers have already applied to a new UK visa scheme opened at the end of January in response to the Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown on democracy and personal liberty in the former British Crown Colony.

Nearly 5,000 Hong Kongers have applied for visas since the new immigration route was opened on January 31st, according to The Times, with experts estimating total application could hit 145,000 by the end of the year if the current rate is maintained.

Initially open to Hong Kongers holding British National Overseas (BNO) citizenship — a relic of the Cantonese-speaking Special Administrative Region’s long years as a part of the British Empire, before the UK transferred it to the communist regime in Beijing (Peking) in 1997. Nearly 25 years later, many Hong Kongers retain a strong sense of affinity with Britain, especially as Chinese repression and state interference has increased.

In time, the scheme will be open to some 5.4 million Hong Kongers, with a clear path to full British citizenship.

Migration experts have reportedly expressed surprise at the number of early applications, with Dr Peter William Walsh of the Migration Observatory telling The Times: “It’s not an insubstantial number and it’ll be interesting to see how much it trails off. It would be something like 145,000 by the end of the year if it continued at that rate.”

British officialdom’s grasp on immigration has long been incredibly poor, with the New Labour government having (in)famously projected that just 5,000 to 13,000 people, net, would migrate to Britain a year if it threw open the doors to EU free movement migration to new Central European member-states in 2004.

While this was understood to be a massive underestimate fairly quickly, recent events have shown the state is no more clued in on the number of migrants in the country. Those crossing borders are not counted in and out systematically, with official estimates instead being based in large part on a crude voluntary survey of some travellers. Indeed, over five million EU migrants have applied for settled status in Britain post-Brexit despite the resident EU migrant population having previously been estimated at around three million.

The Johnson administration has given no indication that it is even considering putting a cap on annual immigration in order to ensure the already soaring numbers do not go completely out of control as a result of the Hong Kong scheme, at a time when British workers, the public finances, and public services are already under huge strain as a result of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns.

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