A former trade and investment officer of the UK’s Hong Kong consulate, Zheng Wenjie, founded the British Hong Kong Overseas Chinese Association (HKB). Their website was officially launched on July 16, 2020. Wenjie hopes to provide a platform for Hong Kong people to support each other so that they can rebuild their lives in the UK.
As founding chairman of the association, Wenjie said that Hong Kong does not only refer to a place but to a group of people who pursue democracy and love the values of freedom. The HKB, as an overseas Chinese affairs organization that recognizes universal values, aims to help Hong Kong people retain their unique culture and identity while at the same time integrate into British society. He hopes that the establishment of the association will make Hong Kong face not its end, but the beginning of a new era.
During the anti-extradition protest movement in 2019, Zheng Wenjie was kidnapped at West Kowloon Station and was brought to Shenzhen for administrative detention. During his detention, he was severely tortured and accused of inciting political unrest in Hong Kong and was forced to confess. After his release, he went to the UK on a working holiday visa and upon his arrival, he accepted an interview with the media to expose the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s persecution of not only himself but also the other anti-extradition protesters. During the interview, he revealed that he was threatened by the CCP to remain silent on what happened to him during his detention in Shenzhen.
Wenjie applied for political asylum with the British Home Office. His asylum application was approved in June last month. He became the first Hong Kong citizen and holder of a British National Overseas (BNO) passport to be granted political asylum for 5 + 1 years by the British authorities. This is to say that he can stay in the UK for five years as a permanent resident and then apply for British citizenship after the following one year. Wenjie is currently the Honorary Chairman of the Umbrella Union, a British civil society organization that was established to speak up for human rights and culture in Hong Kong.
After the “Hong Kong National Security Act” came into effect, the British government announced that it would relax visa rights for Hong Kong citizens holding British Nationals’ overseas passports and extend the current entry period of six months to five years. According to UK government data, about 2.9 million people holding BNO passports are eligible to apply for the visa.
Translated by Chua BC and edited by Michael Segarty