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Tens of thousands of Hong Kong nationals could enter UK every year for new northern city

The proposal, discussed by economist Liam Halligan on Times Radio, would see about 30,000 Hong Kong British National Overseas passport holders arrive in the UK every year. Mr Halligan explained the new city would be best placed outside of London and the south-east, to form the centrepiece of Boris Johnson’s Government’s levelling up agenda. He said: “BNO passport holders, but also their dependents, could come to the UK and this agenda could be lined with the Government setting up free ports, low tax areas within the UK, enterprise zones and so on.

“I personally would like to see any idea of a new Hong Kong in the UK outside London and the south-east.

“I think if you placed it in the north-west or the northeast it could be the centre-piece of the Government’s levelling up agenda.”

He added: “I’ve looked quite closely at the proposals of an organisation that is actively pursuing the idea of a new Hong Kong in the UK and they’re talking about a city by 2050 that would be between 800,000 and 1 million people.

“Around half of whom would be Hong Kong Chinese and then their children who will have been born here.

“So we’re looking at something like 20,000 to 25,000, maybe 30,000 a year, over a 10-year period.

“That’s what their model shows. These aren’t huge numbers.”

READ MORE: Hong Kong chaos: Protesters clash with police over strict new law

China has said it reserves “the right to take corresponding measures” if the UK pushes forward with its plan to give three million Hong Kong residents the right to settle in the country.

Boris Johnson accused Beijing of a “clear and serious breach” of its treaty with Britain by imposing a much-criticised national security law on the territory.

The Prime Minister said he would introduce a route for people with British National (Overseas) (BNO) status to apply for visas to live and work in the UK and apply for citizenship.

In response, the Chinese Embassy in the UK said such a move would be in breach of “international law and basic norms governing international relations”.

A statement said: “We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures.

“We urge the British side to view objectively and fairly the national security legislation for Hong Kong, respect China’s position and concerns, refrain from interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any way.”

On Wednesday, the Foreign Office summoned Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming to a meeting with permanent under-secretary Sir Simon McDonald.

Sir Simon said the imposition of the legislation breaches the Sino-British Joint Declaration which aimed to smooth the transition when the territory was handed back to China in 1997.

This came as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused Beijing of a “grave and deeply disturbing” breach of the treaty which “threatens the strangulation” of Hong Kong’s freedoms.

The security law in Hong Kong – which came into effect on Tuesday night – makes activities deemed subversive or secessionist punishable by imprisonment, and is seen as targeting anti-government demonstrators.

Around 370 people were arrested on Wednesday including a 24-year-old man accused of stabbing a police officer during a protest who was arrested on a London-bound flight before it took off.

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Mr Raab told MPs the “bespoke” new arrangement to be implemented in the coming months would grant BNOs five years’ limited leave to remain in the UK with the ability to live and work.

They would then be eligible to apply for settled status and would be able to apply for citizenship after 12 months with that status.

As of February, there were nearly 350,000 BNO passport holders, while the Government estimates there are around 2.9 million BNOs living in Hong Kong.

However, the Foreign Secretary later said “only a proportion” would be likely to take up the new status.

He also said that if Beijing tried to stop people with British National (Overseas) status from leaving Hong Kong, there would be little that could be done by the UK.

Mr Raab told ITV’s Peston programme: “There is diplomatic leverage, there are other ways that we can persuade China not to fully implement either the national security law or some of the reprisals you talk about.

“But ultimately we need to be honest that we wouldn’t be able to force China to allow BN(O)s to come to the UK.”



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