With yet another coronavirus lockdown in Britain, one cannot stretch one’s legs easily other than in the supermarket. A brief chat I had with a butcher in a Surrey supermarket in September gave me much food for thought, as I had settled in Britain as a British National (Overseas) émigré a month earlier. The conversation started innocuously – where are you from?
As soon as she said she was from China, and I Hong Kong, she asked me a question in Mandarin that had contributed to years of discontent and one year of social unrest in Hong Kong that culminated in Beijing’s imposition of a national security law for the city on June 30 – is Hong Kong not part of China?
Not wanting a prolonged, heated discussion with her, in keeping with English politesse, I did not demur. However, as Britain is to open a new BN(O) visa scheme for eligible Hongkongers on January 31 with the right to work and a path to British citizenship in response to the national security law, the issue of Hongkongers’ nationality, citizenship, belonging and national identity can no longer be deferred.