Much attention has recently been directed towards the possible future status of Hong Kong Chinese holders of British National (Overseas) passports , a document currently held by about 350,000 Hongkongers, with a further 2.5 million eligible to apply by dint of being born here before the 1997 handover. Absent from mention are the non-ethnic Chinese – like this writer – who acquired one by choice long ago. Little remembered today, it was possible to apply to become a British Dependent Territories Citizen before the handover; this seemed like the right thing to do – it signified commitment. My chosen identity in Hong Kong has always been that of an immigrant – never a transient – and all life’s selections led to that final decision to make the city my permanent home. So one baking hot summer’s day in 1996, I queued outside the Immigration Department to register, and was eventually issued with a certificate of naturalisation, some seven months before the British Dependent Territory – Hong Kong – officially ceased to exist. When interviewed, I was asked by the bemused official if I was doing this to claim public assistance or to register for public housing. No, I was not. Consular inquiries indicated that my Australian passport could not be returned; BN(O) status conferred “nationality” but not citizenship – voluntary statelessness was not an option. Nevertheless, I duly applied for a BN(O) passport, and travelled the world on it. This experience was invaluable – it opened my eyes to the not-so-subtle discrimination holders of “second-class” citizenships endure. More extensive questioning at airports than an Australian passport holder usually experienced were routine; rude and irrelevant questioning when applying for visas was habitual. And some unexpected upsides materialised – in Indonesia, immigration officials evidently assumed mine must be a “proper” British passport, and I was stamped in for rather longer than anticipated. I didn’t object. Eventually, non-ethnic Chinese could apply for Chinese citizenship, and obtain the new Hong Kong SAR passport. I obtained the relevant forms from the Immigration Department, but never sent them in. Why? Sheer sloth, a permanent horror of paperwork-in-duplicate, and the demands of everyday life took priority; this could always wait. Various long-term resident Europeans swiftly applied – mostly bumptious ex-civil servants and business types, who ostentatiously paraded their born-again Chineseness in various toe-curling, public ways. How many have applied in recent years, one wonders? Chinese racial nationalism’s steadily rising tide was also a brake; I never deluded myself that most ethnic Chinese would accept a “Chinese” who didn’t share their racial characteristics – whatever their identity documents might state. To the vast majority of Hong Kong’s population, my ethnicity immediately marks me out as a “foreigner” and always will. However that plays out on an individual level, open hostility is rare. And being “other” has led to increased empathy – always useful for a writer – especially when an ethnic Chinese somewhere in the West is asked, for the umpteenth time, where they are “really” from. The question constantly grates, but this is just how the world spins. Calling out ignorance on a daily basis is a task for Sisyphus; it is better to focus on life’s many positives than constantly justify oneself to strangers. So would I move to Britain, now that proposed visa changes might make this possible? Of course not! Hong Kong is my permanent and only home, and here I shall stay – in the marvellous place, and among the extraordinary people, where I have been happy, fulfilled and allowed to flourish for so many wonderful, productive years. And feeling a loyal citizen of somewhere that has largely ceased to exist is a common enough sentiment in Hong Kong, nowadays, which brings me closer in spirit to the majority than ever before. Every change has its upside.