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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Fleeing Hong Kongers seek new life in London

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Fleeing Hong Kongers seek new life in London
Fleeing Hong Kongers seek new life in London

London was never on Hong Konger Aragorn's wish list of places to visit, but now the 36-year-old is trying to build a new life in the British capital after fleeing a security clampdown in his birthplace.

Gloria Tso reports.

London is one of the last places 36-year-old Aragorn ever thought he would visit.

But now, the Hong Konger and pro-democracy activist has been forced to build a new life in the British capital, after he fled China's security crackdown on his home city.

"I can't say we are either betraying or not betraying the cause of fighting for our own rights and fighting for democracy (by leaving).

But I think you have to keep living.

I mean you have to stay alive for any cause." Aragorn, who did not want to give his full name out of fear for his safety, is not alone.

Nearly 5,000 Hong Kong citizens have already applied to live and work in Britain under a new visa scheme which affords Hong Kongers an expedited path to British citizenship.

Britain launched the scheme for holders of a special British National Overseas passport after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong.

Activists say the law erodes the freedoms promised to the former British colony when it was returned to Chinese rule.

But while the scheme makes it easier for Hong Kongers to emigrate to Britain, the struggle of settling in to an unfamiliar place still remains.

"I think I shouldn't be that optimistic.

And that's why I started looking for waiter jobs or even kitchen assistant jobs in restaurants, or like a bubble tea shop store assistant or whatever." The new visa scheme could bring over 300,000 Hong Kongers and their dependents to Britain in the next five years.

Hong Kong residents who qualify for the scheme will be allowed to stay in Britain for five years and then apply for "settled status" and citizenship.

In total, some 5.4 million Hong Kongers could ultimately be eligible.


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