Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Luo Guancong said today that he has been granted political asylum in Britain. The 27-year-old Luo Guancong left Hong Kong after the Chinese government promoted the implementation of the “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region National Security Law” in Hong Kong last year.
Luo Guancong participated in the student movement and later became a member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council. At the end of June last year, Hong Kong passed the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Act, and Luo Guancong fled to the UK in July.
He tweeted that he had been granted political asylum in the UK after receiving several interviews over a four-month period.
He said: “I am wanted under the National Security Law, which shows that I may suffer serious political persecution and it is unlikely that I will return to Hong Kong safely.”
He emphasized the plight of other Hong Kong people applying for asylum in the UK. Those people may not give enough evidence. “I hope my case can help the (UK) Home Office to better understand the complex situation in Hong Kong.” He also said: “In order to rescue more protesters from Beijing’s autocratic oppression, the Ministry of the Interior can consider a wider range of evidence.”
Agence France-Presse reported that Luo Guancong’s experience and the possible circumstances of millions of other Hong Kong people have become a fierce diplomatic dispute between Britain and China.
The United Kingdom implemented a new British Overseas Nationals (BNO) passport system at the end of January this year. Eligible Hong Kong people can apply for a visa to live and work in the UK for up to 5 years. After that, they can also apply for settlement and become citizens, which may benefit up to 5 million people. Including 2.9 million people holding BNO passports and 2.3 million qualified relatives.
Since the introduction of the new system, as of March 19, about 27,000 people have applied for new visas. Although not sure how much the overall demand is, the British government estimates that 258,000 to 322,000 people may apply within 5 years.
China said earlier this year that it would not recognize Hong Kong people’s BNO passports.
In addition, China has recently imposed sanctions on four British entities supporting the Uighurs in Xinjiang and nine British people, including members of parliament. As a result, the two countries’ disputes have increased in recent weeks.
Reuters mentioned that the UK has pledged to spend 43 million pounds (about NT$1.68 billion) to help Hong Kongers who arrive in the UK to find jobs, find housing and study.
The money will be spent by the local government to assist the new residents in English support and housing expenses. The government will also activate 12 virtual local offices to provide assistance in healthcare registration and school registration, and provide advice on setting up companies in the UK.