London mayor issues message of support to Hong Kong migrants
LONDON (AP) — London’s mayor on Thursday sent a message of support to Hong Kong people fleeing China’s crackdown on democracy to seek a new life in the United Kingdom, saying his office will spend 900,000 pounds ($1.2 million) to help new arrivals with housing, education and finding jobs.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said London is expected to welcome the largest proportion of arrivals from Hong Kong to the U.K. this year, after Britain’s government introduced a new immigration pathway for those with a British National Overseas passport to live and work in the country.
The government estimates that about 123,000 to 153,000 people will take up the visa this year. The visa, which allows those eligible to apply for British citizenship after living in the U.K. for five years, was introduced last year after Beijing imposed a sweeping new national security law in Hong Kong.
The measure has prompted an exodus of many young people and families who say their hometown has been transformed beyond measure.
Beijing has strongly criticized Britain’s offer as meddling in its domestic affairs, but British authorities maintain they are keeping a promise to the people of Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, when it returned to Chinese rule as a semi-autonomous region that was supposed to enjoy civil liberties and freedoms not seen elsewhere on mainland China.
More than 34,000 people have already applied for the visa, Khan said, though most haven’t yet arrived in the U.K. because of the pandemic. International travel has been severely restricted and Hong Kong was only added to England’s “green list” of safe countries on Monday, meaning that people arriving from there do not need to quarantine on arrival unless they test positive.
“We think between a quarter and a third (of the arrivals) will...