UK can't back citizenship offer for HK residents

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/7/2 20:30:55

Photo: Xinhua

While UK companies have laid off more than 12,000 employees over the past few days, the British government is certain to add to rising employment crunch by reportedly offering a path to UK citizenship for up to 3 million Hong Kong residents.

The offer could not be less proper by any measure, given the UK government's pledge to protect local job opportunities amid increasing economic challenges the country now faces. 

Britain's economy has suffered its worst quarterly recession since 1979 due to shocks from COVID-19 pandemic, with its GDP dropping 2.2 percent in the first three months of the year, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday.

The country has less than six months left before its transitional UK-EU trade agreement expires, and a new trade deal with the EU remains in the making, pointing to growing uncertainties over its trade prospect. 

Caught in the predicament, the UK government's priority should be to revive economic activity and protect local jobs. Allowing 3 million Hong Kong residents to influx into UK would only undermine such economic efforts.

Meanwhile, the UK's interference in Chinese top legislature's national security legislation for Hong Kong, speaks of UK government's obsession with the former colony, shadowing relations with Beijing. 

Hong Kong may evoke memories of UK's past "glory" for a few Britons, the European country can hardly revisit its colonial dream by continuing to meddle in other countries' internal affairs. 

The country may assume it has some responsibility for Hong Kong, but that's just an illusion. Its colonial days were forever gone, and it would be a breach of its own position as well as international law if the UK government continues to interfere in the city's administration. If the British government indulges in its colonial-era fantasy, it will only arouse public concern among Chinese people and harm UK-China relations. 

Business circles in UK may need to assess the possible impact on commercial relationship, as there are too many uncertainties surrounding how Beijing will react if London chooses to follow the steps of Washington in bullying China. 

The clock is ticking on the post-Brexit transition, which will expire at the end of the year. The UK needs to face up to the fact that cooperation with China would be indispensable for the country if it wants to progress smoothly through the economic transition period.

During the Golden Era of UK-China relations a couple of years ago, British politicians made it clear that closer economic partnership with China is essential for their country.

Now, when it seems the UK needs China more than ever, why is the Johnson government making decisions detrimental to bilateral ties? The British side needs to reflect on this question.

Posted in: GT VOICE

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