The Chinese regime is trying to send spies to Britain by abusing a special visa scheme designed to help Hong Kongers avoid increasingly harsh crackdown on freedoms in the former British colony, a British newspaper reported on Monday. .
The UK government is aware of “sleeper agents” working for the Chinese regime applying for UK visas under a new scheme that allows holders of British National (Overseas) status in Hong Kong to grant citizenship. The route is designed to provide, The Times of London UK government sources have been quoted as saying.
“Visa applications are subject to stringent background checks – and they apply for a reason,” government sources are quoted as saying. “The revision process for the BN(o) visa scheme is much more thorough than any other.”
Benedict Rogers, chief executive of the NGO Hong Kong Watch, who is also a co-founder of the UK Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission, said the revelation was “absolutely outrageous”.
“The UK must tighten procedures to investigate and expel these spies,” he wrote. Twitter.
In response to the report, a Home Office spokesman said: “The BN(O) visa route reflects the UK’s historical and ethical commitment to Hong Kongers who maintain their relations with the UK by taking BN(O) status.” This is an unprecedented and generous offer that reflects our deep ties with Hong Kong.”
“The entire application process has safeguards in place to ensure it is free of abuse and helps those most in need,” the spokesperson said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times.
The Epoch Times has asked the Home Office to confirm or deny the allegations cited in The Times of London report, but did not receive a response by press time.
The new visa scheme for BN(O) status holders was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last July, after Beijing imposed a stringent national security law for Hong Kong that bars individuals from sabotage, secession and access to foreign forces. Makes him an offender for any act of collusion. Communist Party of China, with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The scheme, launched in January, allows BN(O) status holders to live, study and work in the UK for five years and eventually apply for citizenship.
According to official figuresIn the first three months of this year, 34,300 visa applications were received. Of these, 20,000 were the main applicants and 14,300 were dependents.
Chris Patton, the last British governor of Hong Kong, told The Times of London that he believed the BN(o) visa scheme was the “right response” to the imposition of a national security law.
But he said Britain must “get real” about the risk of abusing the Chinese regime’s plans to plant spies in Britain, as it is “an authoritarian state that uses informants.”
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times