As China prepares to take over Hong Kong—effectively ending the era of “one country, two systems”—other countries are struggling with how to respond.
One of the best responses has come from Great Britain. In a column for The Times, Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed a path to British citizenship for nearly 3 million Hong Kong residents. Johnson writes:
Many people in Hong Kong fear that their way of life — which China pledged to uphold — is under threat. If China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away; instead we will honor our obligations and provide an alternative.
The Washington Post reports that, “China’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Britain has no jurisdiction over Hong Kong. Britain must ‘step back from the brink’ and ‘stop interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs and China’s internal affairs.’”
While Boris Johnson’s plan is light on details, it provides a template for other countries’ responses to China’s increasingly authoritarian takeover of Hong Kong. The threat of losing millions of talented citizens could motivate the Chinese government to ease its grip. Other countries should follow Great Britain’s lead and provide a safe haven for individuals whose lives and liberties are under threat by the Chinese Communist Party.