April 8, 2021 | 5: 09pm | Updated April 8, 2021 | 5: 09pm
LONDON — Britain has pledged 43 million pounds ($59 million) to help individuals coming from Hong Kong locate jobs, houses and schools under an initiative allowing millions to resettle after China’s imposition of new safety legislation in the former British colony.
An escalating row with Beijing over reforms in Hong Kong has seen Britain open its doors to potentially more than 5 million individuals, offering them the opportunity to live and work in the nation and eventually apply for citizenship.
The majority of the money announced on Thursday will be spent by local government on programs to help with English language support and housing costs for new arrivals. The government will also launch 12 virtual regional offices to give help with tasks like registering for healthcare and schools.
These’Welcome Hubs’ will also offer advice on how to set up businesses in Britain.
“This programme will ensure British National (Overseas) status holders and their families have the very best start as soon as they arrive, and support to help them find a home, schools for their children, opportunity and prosperity,” said communities ministry Robert Jenrick.
Britain says Chinese-imposed safety laws and political reforms in Hong Kong have broken the terms of the arrangement that watched the semi-autonomous city passed back to China in 1997. Ministers say the visa programme is an effective means of honouring its side of the offer.
China has reacted angrily to the deal and says that the West’s views on its actions over Hong Kong are clouded by misinformation and an imperial hangover.
Since its launch in January, approximately 27,000 people had employed the visa at March 19. Although overall estimates of demand are unclear, the government predictions between 258,000 and 322,000 applicants within five decades.
The programme is available to 2.9 million people classed as British National (Overseas) — a particular status that specifically pertains to Hong Kong — and also a further 2.3 million eligible employees.
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