Now 20 years since its return to China, Hong Kong residents are again rushing to secure British passports as a safety net in the event of more possible problems ahead such as social unrest or the erosion of civil liberties in Hong Kong. With the “occupy” street protests of 2014, and increasing calls for independence more residents in Hong Kong are looking for a way out in the event of any unrest. The BNO passport applications are still being renewed in Hong Kong as an insurance policy.
Government data has shown that in last year 2016, more than 37,500 BN(O) passports were issued which is a massive 44 percent jump on the year before and also the highest number for more than a decade as reported by Reuters. Diplomatic sources have told Reuters that there is also a much broader rush for foreign citizenship for the residents of Hong Kong. The BNO passport holder does not automatically obtain the right of abode in the United Kingdom however holders of the BNO passports can visit the -free for a period of six months and are also entitled to British consular protection around the world. From Reuters:
“People are worried. We understand that embassies all over Hong Kong are getting lots of queries from people seeking citizenship,” said one senior diplomat at a major consulate.
Hong Kong residents are moving out of Hong Kong to a number of countries in Asia and in the West. In Canada they have seen a growing number of new citizens from Hong Kong in the 10 years to 2015. The same goes for Taiwan which saw a major boost in numbers during the period of 2016, as a total of 1,086 Hong Kong residents became Taiwan permanent residents. This has been the highest figure for the last 10 years. Hong Kong residents in South Korea have also shot up as they saw a seven-fold increase in 2015 compared to 2007. The United States also saw a massive increase in applications from Hong Kong with a 22 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.