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Revealed! – Britain’s evil plan in denying Hong Kong people nationality before 1997 handover

July 27, 2018

Generally, the people of Hong Kong – Hong Kongers – have a perception that their former lord, United Kingdom or Britain, is the good guy while China the bad guy. They prefer to be ruled by the British Empire than the Chinese Communist Party. Given a second chance, the Hong Kongers would gladly be a British colony again.

A poll carried out by the South China Morning Post in 2013 saw a whopping 92% Hong Kong people voted for return to British rule – 16 years after the territory was returned to mainland China in 1997. Naturally, pro-democracy demonstrators are still alive and kicking until today. In fact, most of the Hong Kongers were extremely frustrated with their limited options.

On one hand, they rally and protest almost annually against mainland China, whom they see as a new master of colonization. They call for self-determination. They have established political parties to campaign for a return to British rule. They have even openly advocated breaking away from the mainland. Yes, they are calling for independence.

Yet, on the other hand, they have been disappointed over old master Britain’s silence. They argued that Britain should act honourably because it has a moral and legal responsibility to Hong Kong. The British Empire did after all sign a treaty, back in 1984, which guaranteed Hong Kong’s core values and way of life, including freedom of speech and assembly, until 2047.

The truth is that money talks. Despite Beijing’s poor human rights record, China’s President Xi Jinping rode in a gilded carriage to Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth II past protesters back in 2015. Former Prime Minister David Cameron said the visit will secure trade and investment deals worth more than £30 billion and lead to the creation of more than 3,900 jobs.

But the mother of all truths is that the British government didn’t care about the Hong Kong people, no matter how they chest-thumping about their desire to return to British rule. Where’s the proof? The newly declassified documents from the British cabinet files have revealed the truth which Hong Kongers found hard to believe.

Reported by the South China Morning Post, apparently the documents exposed how Britain repeatedly pressured Portugal not to grant nationality to its colonial residents in Macau to prevent Hong Kongers asking for the same treatment ahead of the two territories’ return to the Chinese rule. Hong Kong was a British territory until 1997 while Macau was a Portuguese territory until 1999.

The declassified files in the National Archives in London, made available in July, have shocked some Hong Kong people who thought all this while that Britain was the good guy while China was the bad guy. The issue between the UK and Portugal started in 1985 as the latter was preparing to join the then-European Community (now European Union).

The then-British Home Secretary Douglas Hurd had urged his colleagues to persuade Lisbon to tighten its criteria of granting Portuguese nationality to Macau residents. In his letter dated October 1985 to then-Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe, Hurd warned that any Macau residents granted a Portuguese passport would be able to live and work in Britain or any part of the European Community.

Hurd wrote – “With Macau perhaps returning to the control of China at the same time as Hong Kong, it may well be that there will be many Macanese of Portuguese nationality who will decide that Europe rather than Macau is the place to be. Moreover, Hong Kong may try to obtain Portuguese passports by whatever means in order to gain a right of entry to the United Kingdom.

The letter estimated about 85,000 Macau residents would be entitled to nationality, but Mr. Hurd feared there would be more. While many of the richest Hong Kong residents had already made other arrangements to lives in countries that welcome them with open arms – Canada, Australia and New Zealand – Britain was not impressed with the import of Hong Kongers.

British tabloid Independent admitted in 1996 that racism was still strongly entrenched in British politics. Many MPs had spoken out against Hong Kong immigration. Tory backbencher David Wilshire, for example, said – “Just say to them we’re full up. I’m ever so sorry, there isn’t any room left! We haven’t the housing for them, we haven’t the jobs.”

Only 50,000 of the best-heeled Hong Kong families were allowed passports that will let them live in Britain. The rest of the 3.3 million who were born in the colony will be left to their fate. Former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten had bravely called for the British Government to grant passports to all 3.3 million born and bred in Hong Kong – only to create spectacular furore.

In response to Douglas Hurd’s letter, Geoffrey Howe said that he would not propose initiating direct talks with immigration officials in Macau over the issue, as the then governor of Hong Kong feared further British pressure on the Portuguese would be resented in the city. Unlike Britain, Portugal had maintained that its constitution did not allow it to distinguish between holders of Portuguese nationality.

Hence, in a way, the Portuguese was fairer than the selfish and racist British. When Macau was eventually returned to Chinese rule in 1999, passports – which came with full citizenship rights – were granted to anyone born before November 20, 1981, and Portuguese nationality could be passed on to their children. Portuguese had refused the British’s discrimination plan.

Essentially, the Portuguese offered Macau Chinese the right to live and work in Portugal and other European countries – a right which many Hong Kongers have argued they should also be entitled to. Macau residents granted the Portuguese nationality had not flooded into Britain, proving that the British fear of Chinese blanket migration was unfounded.

Lord Paddy Ashdown, former leader of the UK Liberal Democrats, says Britain has a duty to Hong Kong. He had advocated for BNO (British National Overseas) passport holder to be given right of abode. Interestingly, BNO passport holders have the right to land in Britain and enjoy a six-month stay as a visitor only. While Hong Kongers feel they have been betrayed by China, in reality, they have been abandoned by the British.

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From → World Watch

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