In their recent publication titled Doing Our Duty, the think tank argues that it is the responsibility of the UK to take in Hong Kong nationals who are facing increasing violence as a result of the ongoing chaos in Hong Kong, in addition to a possible military escalation from China.
They further argue that despite the handover of Hong Kong to China from the UK in 1997 under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the UK has a duty to protect the rights of Hong Kongers until 2047 and that the place where such actions can be done (referring to territories or areas) has never been specified.
They suggest that Hong Kongers should be granted British Nationals (Overseas) status along with the extension of citizenship rights given to full British Citizens. This, in turn, will give opportunities to the 169,000 British Nationals living in Hong Kong the ability to work and move freely within the UK, along with opening up possibilities for the 4.5 million people living in Hong Kong.
Under the “one country, two systems” arrangement, many Hong Kongers are considered to be Chinese nationals by China. Despite this, there are also Hong Kongers who hold British Nationals (overseas) status in Hong Kong with limited rights.
Many experts have noted that such a move will benefit the UK as there will be an exodus of skilled workers and talented professionals to the UK from Hong Kong.
In addition to the think tank, Tom Tugendhat, who is a member of the Parliament and Chair of the Influential Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has also openly supported the suggested move. He argues that the UK should give Hong Kongers British National (Overseas) status as a means of reassuring Hong Kong citizens that they are protected. He emphasizes that this would have been done by the UK before the 1997 handover of Hong Kong.