LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has pledged 43 million pounds ($ 59 million) to help people commuting from Hong Kong to find jobs, homes and schools, under an initiative to allow millions to resettle after it. China established new security laws in former British colonies.
Beijing’s expansion on reforms in Hong Kong has opened the door to more than 5 million people by the UK, giving them the opportunity to live and work in the country and eventually apply for citizenship.
Much of the money announced Thursday will be used by local governments on programs to help support English and accommodation costs for newcomers. Additionally, the government will open 12 regional virtual offices to provide assistance with events such as enrollment for health care and schools.
These ‘Welcome Hubs’ provide advice on setting up a business in the UK.
“This program gives UK (overseas) citizenship and their families the best possible start as soon as they arrive, and support them to help them find homes, schools for their children, opportunities and prosperity.” Said Robert Janerich, Minister of Community Affairs.
Britain said China’s security law and democratic reforms in Hong Kong violated the terms of the accord that it saw the semi-autonomous city return to China in 1997, the minister said, the visa program was one way to honor the clause. Ok said
China has reacted furiously to the proposal and said Western views of its actions against Hong Kong were filled with inaccurate information and an imperial hangover.
Since its launch in January, there have been an estimated 27,000 new visa applications on March 19, although overall demand estimates are uncertain. But the government estimates there will be between 258,000 and 322,000 applicants over five years.
The program is open to 2.9 million people classified as British (foreign) nationals, a special Hong Kong-related status, and 2.3 million more eligible dependents.
($ 1 = 0.7235 pounds)
Reporting by William James, editing by William Maclean