LETTER: Citizenship an `insurance'

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The Independent Online
From Mr Lin Li

Sir: Being a Hong Kong Chinese who has settled in the United Kingdom, I applaud Chris Patten's suggestion that Hong Kong British Dependent Territories Citizens (BDTCs) should be given right of abode in this country.

The fear of many Conservative politicians that this will lead to a mass influx from Hong Kong and thereby pose a danger to Britain's social stability is unfounded. As recent research has revealed, Britain is not, and probably will not be in the foreseeable future, a popular migration destination for Hong Kong Chinese.

Economically, Hong Kong people feel that they have more opportunities in the Far East than elsewhere. Britain is seen as highly unattractive because of its recent economic depression. Culturally, the overwhelming majority of Hong Kong BDTCs are Chinese, many of whom find British culture alienating. Concern about racial discrimination, considered to be prominent in Britain, particularly as reflected in the debate over the citizenship rights of Hong Kong BDTCs, further reduces Britain's desirability as a place of residence.

Indeed, among the 50,000 heads of household who have been granted British right of abode under the British Nationality Selection Scheme, few intend to move to Britain. Many of them, in fact, have sought, or have even acquired, citizenship status in other countries, such as Canada or Australia; if they had to leave Hong Kong for any political reason, they would rather go to these countries than to the UK.

Although Britain is not a popular migration destination for Hong Kong people, full British citizenship status is nonetheless useful in serving as an "insurance" for them, as it will give Hong Kong people the confidence to stay and work there. This insurance is important for maintaining the stability, and hence prosperity, of the territory.

In view of possible Chinese repression in Hong Kong after July 1997, a British government which ignores the plight of its Hong Kong British subjects is simply being irresponsible.

Yours sincerely,

Lin Li


24 September