The United Kingdom, which has been struggling with the novel coronavirus pandemic and has one of the highest totals of COVID-19 related deaths, has been raising its diplomatic profile since denouncing China over Beijing’s new national security law for Hong Kong.
Following the approval of the legislation by the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, in May, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration strongly condemned the move as a clear and serious breach of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. The declaration had stipulated that Hong Kong should continue to enjoy a high level of autonomy after its handover to China, thus reaffirming the “one country, two systems” principle.
By issuing a joint statement with the United States, Australia and Canada, the U.K. took the lead in criticizing China for eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Johnson also vowed to offer some 350,000 Hong Kong citizens with British National Overseas passports and 2.6 million Hong Kongers eligible to apply for the status a pathway to live and work in the U.K. and eventually obtain British citizenship.