In recent months, especially after the death of George Floyd, Asian countries such as Hong Kong and Beijing had started to crack down on arranging protests and limiting free speech. Beijing’s new National Security law punishes any sign of rioting or protesting with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Activists such as Simon Cheng are being placed on a “most wanted” list simply by influencing massive protests regarding police brutality.
These policies have caused many of its Chinese citizens to immigrate to the United Kingdom. According to The Economist, “Visa application documents in Asian countries has increased by 40%”. Moreover, the majority of citizens travelling to the UK are young adults, compared to 34% the year before. “It’s going to be truly saddening as I really love this place, all the friends I have here, my family. It’s going to be really tough”, says one Hong Kong citizen. “It’s ironic how us Hong Kongers have to be pushed out of our own homes by the Hong Kong government because of how disgusting it is”.
Hearing about the Hong Kong policies, the United Kingdom has offered all Asian residents with a British National Overseas passport. As of 2021, those with this passport will be able to live in the UK for 5 years with a chance to acquire citizenship after that. Hong Kong itself may have been a British colony, but it had separated from British control after promising to protect its citizen’s rights as long as it shall be free. “We do not feel safe in Hong Kong”, says another Asian citizen. “The police just do the job for the government, not the Hong Kong people. Now, Hong Kong is China”.
While some immigrants may feel safer in Britain, that doesn’t mean they are emotionally stable. One resident who fled Hong Kong reports that “Not until the Communist Party is done, there is no future for Hong Kong. You simply cannot trust anyone. You don’t know who are the agents from China”. Other citizens report feeling selfish after abandoning their family. Many citizens haven’t been able to speak with their family or friends since the anti-protesting law was passed.
Still, these citizens know they have made the right choice immigrating to the United Kingdom to flee dictatorial rule. “Every day, every second, our freedoms in Hong Kong are slowly disappearing”, says Cheng. “I am unable to sleep fearing I will be beaten by the Chinese government. Still, I miss Hong Kong. Am I getting homesick already? I don’t know”.