Hong Kong needs British passports

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The Independent Online
From Ms Valerie Cochrane and others

Sir: We are a group of Hong Kong women who would like to encourage the British government to regard as a priority the interests of the residents of this British colony during the final 730 days of British rule.

In the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong's largest circulation English language daily newspaper) of 26 June 1995, Emily Lau, an independent member of Hong Kong's Legislative Council, pointed out that "Hong Kong people have been deprived of a meaningful citizenship by the British government".

It is not too late for the British government to grant British passports to Hong Kong citizens. Such an act would not only be a psychological boost to the people of Hong Kong, enabling them to take a more active interest in the future of this city, but would also be a significant gesture to Peking, reminding Chinese leaders of Britain's continuing care for the people who have to date chosen to live under its rule.

It is not a matter of significant numbers. Millions of people in the EU, Australia and Canada have the right to work and reside in Britain; few choose to do so. The granting of Portuguese passports to the citizens of our neighbouring city Macau gives them the right to move to Britain. Few show signs of doing so. Only a few wealthy and educated people would choose to leave Hong Kong for Britain, but these are the very people whom the new government of Hong Kong would least want to lose.

It is not too late for the British Government to take this vital step.

Yours faithfully,

Valerie Cochrane, Clare Cochrane, Veronica Andrews, Josephine Dickson, Belinda Lee, Diana Martin

Hong Kong

20 June

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