A new visa scheme offering millions of Hong Kongers a pathway to British citizenship went live on 31 January 2021 as the city's former colonial master opens its doors to those wanting to escape China's crackdown on dissent.
Britain's government said some 7,000 people with British National Overseas passports - a travel document that Hong Kongers could apply for before the city was handed over to Chinese control in 1997 - have arrived since July on the previously allowed six-month visa. It estimates that more than 300,000 people will take up the offer of extended residency rights in the next five years.
Since previous year, the British side, in violation of basic norms governing global relations, has made every effort to obstruct the formulation and implementation of the law on safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. "Now we receive about 10 to 15 calls a day asking about it". The police have been criticized by pro-democracy supporters for brutality and the use of excessive force.
It also comes as the United Kingdom launches a new visa programme and path to citizenship for British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong.
Cindy, a businesswoman who also asked to be identified by only her first name, arrived in London last week. But she made up her mind to leave it all behind as she felt that the city's freedoms and liberties were eroding and she wanted to ensure a good future for her kids.
"I am immensely proud that we have brought in this new route for Hong Kong BN (O) s to live, work and make their home in our country", said U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a statement.
Amid the backdrop of the global pandemic and economic turmoil, Mrs Lam announced her annual Policy Address in November 2020 with numerous measures to support Hong Kong to strive ahead with renewed perseverance.
Beijing drastically hardened its stance on Hong Kong after the 2019 protests turned violent and plunged the city into a months-long crisis.