Britain Is Granting Record Numbers of Passports to Hongkongers. America Should Take a Hint.
In October, Britain’s Passport Office granted an average of five passports every minute to residents of Hong Kong—each one a potential lifeline to someone fleeing China’s crackdown on the formerly autonomous city.
More than 216,000 residents of Hong Kong received “British National (Overseas)” passports during the first 10 months of 2020, according to data obtained by Bloomberg from the British government. More than 59,000 were issued in October alone. Both of those figures represent huge increases over annual norms.
In July, Britain upgraded the status of those special “BNO” passports, which are available to Hongkongers because of the territory’s historical ties to the British government. Now BNO passport-holders are allowed to relocate to Britain for up to five years and have access to a path to full-time U.K. citizenship. The new rules were passed in direct response to China’s crackdown, especially the June passage of a national security law allowing the central government to clamp down on civil liberties.
China has criticized Britain for opening its doors in this way, but the U.K. deserves praise for acting quickly and decisively in defense of freedom. Bloomberg‘s reporting certainly suggests that demand is surging for this escape route.
It is shameful that America has not stepped up to do something similar.
Hongkongers currently have few options for coming to America. They can seek political asylum in the United States—and an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in July does reserve more spots on the refugee list for people fleeing Hong Kong—but to claim asylum one must be physically present in the United
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