Britain rejects appeal to grant full citizenship to former Hong Kong British soldiers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 March, 2015, 2:44am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2018, 3:28pm

London has turned down a renewed appeal to grant full British citizenship to former British-Hong Kong soldiers left in the territory after the handover.

A Home Office minister said veterans could take a form of British nationality known as British National (Overseas). But BNO status does not allow holders the right of abode in Britain.

The issue was debated in the House of Commons yesterday, following lobbying by a campaign group formed by ex-servicemen in Hong Kong.

The group - Campaign for Abandoned British-Chinese Soldiers Left in Hong Kong in 1997 - has been fighting for the former soldiers' right of abode.

Andrew Rosindell, a member of the British parliament's foreign affairs committee, said: "The ex-servicemen in Hong Kong were part of our regular British army, working side by side with British troops both in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

"And these men are now our veterans … To many, it seems the veterans of ours now form a forgotten part of British history."

But immigration minister James Brokenshire said: "It has been a long established practice in British national law for British nationality to be lost when a country ceases to be a UK territory."

He added Hongkongers could acquire BNO status, which can be retained for life.

Dubbed by some second-class British passports, BNO passports were issued after the Hong Kong Act 1985. There are some 3.4 million holders of such passports in Hong Kong.

A campaign group member, Roger Ching Yuen-ki, who served in the Royal Military Police in Hong Kong, said it would continue its fight.

"We hope the parliament will agree to issue passports to the rest of us as soon as possible and it will urge [Prime Minister] Mr David Cameron to reconsider the issue."