Hong Kong migration to UK forecast at 200,000

Up to 200,000 Hong Kong citizens with British passports are expected to come to live in the UK over the next five years, according to an estimate by the Foreign Office in London.

Hong Kong cityscape at night
The Financial Times reported that the estimates, compiled in internal Foreign Office documents, represented one of the biggest non-European migrations into the UK in recent years.

350,000 Hong Kong citizens currently hold BNO passports

Since Beijing imposed draconian security measures on Hong Kong, the UK government has made it clear that holders of British National Overseas (BNO) passports in the former colony would be welcome to relocate to the UK, with an entitlement to full citizenship after five years."The Financial Times has been told that 200,000 is the Foreign Office’s broad estimate of how many Hong Kong residents could take up the offer. The precise figure was in 'flux' with a median expected number of arrivals of 180,000, according to one official; another said the estimate was just over 200,000," the FT reported.Currently, some 350,000 Hongkongers hold BNO passports, although it is estimated some three million would be entitled to apply for them.

Alan Mak, UK Conservative MP: "it would be a very big boost to the British economy"

Alan Mak, a Conservative MP of Chinese descent, said he did not expect large numbers of Hong Kong residents to make a new life in Britain, but added, “It would be a very big boost to the British economy if they did. Hongkongers are very industrious and entrepreneurial.”Mr Mak, whose father worked at Hong Kong airport, compared the possible economic benefits of migration from Hong Kong with that of the 1970s arrival in Britain of Asians from Uganda after they were expelled by Idi Amin.

Other nations offer resettlement options

As we reported last week, relocation specialists and immigration lawyers in both London and Hong Kong have seen a surge in inquiries since Beijing announced the security clampdown. Now, other possible destinations appear to be opening up for those considering leaving Hong Kong.Emigration consultant Willis Fu Yiu-wai told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) that, while many people were still keen to leave, the initial panic had been replaced by a wait-and-see attitude as other nations, aside from the UK, opened up immigration possibilities.Since the British offer of resettlement, Australia has announced plans to welcome Hongkongers. Now those considering emigration are anticipating that other countries will open their doors, too.“It has upended the whole market,” Jason Yu Wai-lung, chief immigration consultant at Smart2Go, told the SCMP.After Beijing first announced in May that it would tailor-make a security law for Hong Kong, inquiries shot up at Goldmax Immigration from ten to 60 a day, with many coming from nurses aged between 20 and 40.The firm said that the UK offer to those with BNO passports represented a breakthrough deal for skilled Hong Kong workers who previously would have eschewed the idea of emigrating to Britain because of the high cost of visas.Meanwhile, Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador in London, has described the UK offer of a path to citizenship for Hongkongers as a “gross interference” in Chinese affairs.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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