Nathan Law, the pro-democracy leader who fled Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong last summer, has been granted asylum in Britain.
Law’s announcement, which is likely to further inflame tensions between London and Beijing, came as the British government revealed a plan to help Hongkongers fleeing to Britain to find housing, education and employment.
Law, 27, expressed gratitude for the Home Office’s decision to grant him asylum after he fled arrest under the draconic national security law imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing last summer. He was wanted on suspicion of inciting secession. “The fact that I am wanted under the national security law shows that I am exposed to severe political persecution and am unlikely to return to Hong Kong without risk,” he tweeted.
Britain has accused China of multiple breaches of the agreement intended to preserve a high degree of autonomy when the city was handed back to Chinese rule in 1997.
Last year Boris Johnson implemented a scheme to give holders of British National (Overseas) passports a five year visa giving them the right to live and work in Britain and a pathway to citizenship. Today the government promised £43 million pounds to create support hubs to help families and individuals resettle and find housing and employment.
About 27,000 Hongkongers have applied for the visa and the Home Office anticipates up to 150,000 applications in the first year.
Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, told the BBC that Britain wanted to provide “necessary” help, including the provision of school places. “If they struggle, then we’re here to support them,” he said. “That means local councils being there to provide them with housing, with the benefit system standing behind them, with all the support the state can offer to make sure that no-one gets into difficult times.”