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HONG KONG 1997. UK officials discussed resettling 5.5m Hong Kong Chinese in Northern Ireland


UK will honor passport promise to eligible Hong Kong residents BNO

Archives reveal debate in 1983 over bizarre idea of moving millions of Chinese to Northern Ireland at height of Troubles ahead of colony’s handover to Beijing

Government officials raised the idea of resettling the entire five and a half million residents of Hong Kong in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles, it has emerged in government documents that have just been released.

The extraordinary proposal was more a political in-joke than a genuine plan – but one civil servant said at the time that it should be taken seriously. It has emerged from a 1983 file released to the National Archives in Kew, in London, on Friday.

The suggestion was made initially by an academic, Christie Davies, a sociology lecturer at Reading University. A city state should be established in Magilligan, between Coleraine and Derry, he said, because the colony’s population would have no political future after the territory reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

A Northern Ireland civil servant, George Fergusson, seized on the idea and launched into enthusiastic discussions with the Foreign Office.

A file entitled The Replantation of N. Ireland from Hong Kong records the exchanges – the title echoes the 17th-century settlement, or “plantation” of Scots in Ulster by King James I.

Written in an era of sectarian bloodshed and political stalemate, the correspondence reflects the private exasperation of those close to the heart of power and appears to have provided them with an entertaining diversion from more serious challenges. The file was given a “restricted” status but there is nothing to indicate that it ever reached ministers.

“If the plantation were undertaken,” Fergusson wrote, “it would have evident advantages in reassuring Unionist opinion of the open-ended nature of the Union.” American doubts about the scheme would be assuaged by the “possibly happy outcome to the uncertainties currently surrounding Hong Kong”.

He continued: “We are undecided here whether the arrival of 5½ million Cantonese would make government policy [on devolution] … more or less easy to implement. Arithmetically, recognition of three identities might be thought more difficult.

“On the other hand, the newly arrived ‘third’ identity would be hard not to recognise and this in turn might lessen the scale of the problem in recognising the other two.”

There were legal precedents, Fergusson added: “If Gibraltar and Falkland Island inhabitants … may be EC citizens, how could Brussels … seriously object to the inhabitants of Hong Kong, particularly if they were living in the Magilligan area?”

Fifty Chinese families from Vietnam had been resettled in Craigavon and Coleraine already, he pointed out. “It has at least established that the Chinese do not find the Northern Ireland climate objectionable and that they can get on reasonably well with the current inhabitants.”

Fergusson said there would be a need to liaise with the Treasury, Home Office and Hong Kong itself. “At this stage we see real advantages in taking the proposals seriously,” he commented. There would need to be planning applications on a confidential basis.

In reply, DR Snoxell, of the Foreign Office (FCO), adopted a tone that suggested parody as much as caution. He wrote: “You have raised some important considerations to which we shall want to give careful thought.

“My initial reaction, however, is that the proposal could be useful to the extent that 5½ million Chinese may induce the indigenous peoples to forsake their homeland for a future elsewhere. Arrangements would, of course, have to be made for [the Chinese] to retain their UK nationality.”

Sovereignty disputes with the Irish republic over Lough Foyle could complicate their resettlement, he added. “The Chinese people of Hong Kong are essentially a fishing and maritime people,” Snoxell said. 

“I am sure you would share our view that it would be unwise to settle the people of Hong Kong in the vicinity until we had established our claims on the lough and whether these extended to high or low-water mark.”

Another appreciative official at the FCO had written on the letter: “My mind will be boggling for the rest of the day.”

Although the Chinese community never reached five million, it has contributed to Northern Ireland’s political progress. Anna Lo, originally from Hong Kong, moved to Belfast in 1974, eventually becoming a Stormont assembly member for the Alliance party. She announced last year that she would stand down because of racist attacks by loyalists. 

Scotland could be site of new Hong Kong, says study 20th June 1989

A NEW Hong Kong could be created on the west coast of Scotland to provide the colony's residents with a haven from the Chinese takeover, according to a radical plan put forward.

Coastal sites in Wales or Cumbria are other possible options for a new colony, says the right-wing think tank, the Adam Smith Institute. It says Britain has a moral responsibility to help those among the 3,200,000 British passport holders frightened that recent events in Beijing may be repeated after the 1997 handover.

There is no room in Britain's congested towns and cities and other countries would be unlikely to take a large number of refugees, argues the institute's domestic policy adviser Mr Douglas Mason. (source : The Guardian)


UK will honor passport promise to eligible Hong Kong residents BNO

On Thursday May 28, Beijing imposed on the Hong Kong authorities a national security law intended to thwart secessionist tendencies.

For China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are anti-models to hand over on the right track»

The United Kingdom would offer a path to citizenship for eligible Hong Kong residents and condemned China's new security law as a threat to the city's freedom. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on wednesday -- the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from British rule to China -- that his government will honor its promise to British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders, who could otherwise face imprisonment for acts such as protesting or campaigning under the new law.

The law dramatically broadens the powers of local and mainland authorities to investigate, prosecute and punish dissenters. In vague language, it criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers. People convicted of such crimes can face sentences of up to life in prison.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that after "carefully" assessing the contents of the new national security law, it constitutes "a clear violation of the autonomy of Hong Kong, and a direct threat to the freedoms of its people."

He said it was therefore "a clear and serious violation" of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which laid the groundwork for the city's handover from British to China in 1997 and stated that Hong Kong's existing system of government would remain in place for 50 years.

The end of an exception?

President Xi Jinping whistled Thursday,

May 28, the end of a Chinese exception, as feared by many people in Hong Kong? Is it the twilight of the formula "one country, two systems", which has hitherto ensured the maintenance of this liberal island that is Hong Kong - 7.5 million inhabitants - throughout the Chinese mainland (1.4 billion)?

When the British decided to return this colony acquired in the mid-19th century to China, they concluded a treaty with Beijing. From 1997, the date of their departure, to 2047, Hong Kong would benefit from a special status: extensive autonomy of government. With its own constitution, the island would retain its public freedoms and, even more, its independent justice. In Hong Kong, in this particular legal environment known as the rule of law, anyone, Chinese or foreign, can win a lawsuit against the government.

- Q/A -

Do Hong Kongers have British citizenship?

British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997: British citizenship for British Nationals (Overseas) without Chinese ancestry. The subsequently enacted British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997 gives them an entitlement to acquire full British citizenship by making an application to register for that status after 1 July 1997.

What is difference between British citizen and British national?

A British national, or United Kingdom national, is a person who possesses a class of British nationality. This includes anyone who is a: British citizen. British Overseas Territories citizen.

What is your nationality if you were born in Hong Kong?

A “Chinese citizen” is a person of Chinese nationality under the CNL. Hong Kong residents who are of Chinese descent and were born in the Chinese territories (including Hong Kong), or persons who satisfy the criteria laid down in the CNL as having Chinese nationality, are Chinese nationals.20 janv. 2017

Do Hong Kong residents have British passports?

British National (Overseas) passport. Holders of BN(O) passports are permanent residents of Hong Kong who were British Dependent Territories citizens until 30 June 1997 and had registered as BN(O)s.