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Hong Kong citizens protest Friday outside the United Kingdom's Houses of Parliament in London against the limited rights of British National Overseas passport holders in the former U.K. colony. Photo: WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images

About 7,000 Hong Kongers have fled to the U.K. since China imposed a national security law on Hong Kong and the British government expects more than 300,000 to obtain extended residency rights over the next five years, per AP.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as the U.K. opened the new visa scheme Sunday — a day after China said it would no longer recognize Hong Kongers' British National Overseas (BNO) passports as valid travel documents or proof of identity.

Driving the news: The U.K. government announced last July when the security law passed the new path to British citizenship for Hong Kongers who qualify for the BNO status, which was granted to those living in the city before the British government handed its former colony back to China in 1997.

  • Under the offer, these Hong Kongers and their dependents have the right to remain in the United Kingdom for five years, during which time they can work or study.
  • They would then be allowed to apply for "settled status" and, after an additional year, citizenship, Axios Dave Lawler notes.

The big picture: Some Hong Kongers told AP they're leaving because they're worried they'll be punished for backing the pro-democracy protest movement — which has seen several prominent figures arrested or imprisoned in recent months.

  • "Many others" said China's erosion of the high degree of autonomy they previously enjoyed had become "unbearable," and they want their children to have better future.
  • "Most say they don't plan to ever go back," AP notes.

Go deeper

China to stop recognizing special U.K. passport for Hong Kong residents

A person holds up a British National (Overseas) passport in Hong Kong. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

China will no longer recognize the British National Overseas passport as a valid travel document or proof of identity, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Friday.

Why it matters: The announcement comes amid heightened tensions with the United Kingdom over its plan to offer potentially millions of Hong Kong residents a path to residency, and eventual citizenship.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

China is arresting citizens for posting criticism on social media

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

China is imprisoning ordinary citizens who criticize the government on foreign social media — posts not even seen in China, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Human rights activists told The Journal this is a change from the past, when postings abroad were deterred through detentions and harassment.

California governor declares drought emergency in most counties

A sign in April on the outskirts of Buttonwillow in California's Kern County, one of the top agriculture producing counties in the San Joaquin Valley, after historically low winter rainfall. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover 41 of the state's 58 counties on Monday.

Why it matters: Most of California and the American West are experiencing an "extreme" or "exceptional" drought, per the U.S. Drought Monitor. Newsom and other officials are concerned California could experience a repeat of the catastrophic 2020 wildfire season.

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