The people of Hong Kong know all about British lies and perfidy.

Hong Kong succeeds because its people are free. They can pursue their dreams and scale as many heights as their talents allow.” Boris Johnson

This is disingenuous claptrap. The people of Hong Kong have never been “free” – they have never governed themselves. On 1st July 1997 they went from being the disenfranchised residents of a British colony to being the disenfranchised residents of a Chinese one. They had few if any governance rights before 1997 and few if any since. The “Joint Declaration” was a sell-out.

The problem for Hong Kongers has always been not the rights like “Freedom of Speech” or “Freedom of the Press” , which they have mostly enjoyed but the fact that they have never governed the territory in which they live. The Governor for a century and a half was a Briton and appointed by the British Government. Since 1997 the equivalent has been appointed By Beijing. Plus ca change in many ways.

A territory without self-governance can still have Passport rights for its residents – but Hong Kongers have never had this. Yes they had a nominally “British” passport with which they could travel – if countries chose to admit them. But this document did not give them British nationality nor, crucially, the right of residence in the U.K. As such it was largely worthless.

When I lived in the territory in the 1980s after the Joint Declaration was signed those among my Hong Konger friends who could afford to do so acquired foreign passports – particularly Australian and Canadian – as insurance against the sort of situation they now face. Cities like Melbourne and Vancouver have hugely benefited from this immigration. But many who got these passports stayed in Hong Kong knowing that if things got nasty they could leave. It’s only a matter of time before most of them do so.

Britain abandoned the people of Hong Kong and I very much doubt that any of the threatened people of the territory will believe a word Boris Johnson says now – they know all about Gweilo lies. Australia, Canada and New Zealand offer a more congenial welcome and these countries know what a valuable contribution Hong Kongers can make. Why would you want the passport of xenophobic, nationalist Little England when you can have one of a welcoming, open state where many of your friends and compatriots already live happily?

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