Letter: British subjects with nowhere to go

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Sir: The British government is deeply involved in deciding the political life of Hong Kong now and after the change in sovereignty in 1997. But there is one aspect of Hong Kong people's future that the British government has refused to accept as morally right, and to protect.

There are between 5,000 and 7,000 non-Chinese ethnic minority residents in Hong Kong who now hold British Dependent Territory Citizen or British National (Overseas) passports. They will become stateless after 1997.

The Hong Kong Legislative Council has unanimously argued for them to be granted British citizenship. The Hong Kong government and the people of Hong Kong agree that the British government has an obligation to do so. The House of Lords has overwhelmingly added its weight to the argument through debates and by supporting a Private Member's Bill which successfully received its Third Reading recently. Yet still the British government refuses to accept and honour its clear obligation to these loyal and dedicated British subjects.

If the Government continues to refuse to honour its obligations to these people, they will be sentenced to a hopeless future of stateless limbo. There can be no justification for the British parliament to leave these people adrift, or merely shelve their case. They must not be left to one side.

When the House of Commons debates the British Nationality (HK) Bill initiated by Lord Bonham-Carter, we in Hong Kong hope its members will vote for what is right, and grant British citizenship to this small but deserving group of loyal subjects.

Yours sincerely,



Legislative Council

House Committee

Hong Kong

9 February