More Hong Kong residents are electing to renew their British overseas passports, hitting an eight-year high and bucking a trend of decline seen during the past decade.
In response to a freedom of information request submitted by the South China Morning Post, the British government released figures showing that the number of British National (Overseas) passports renewed by Hongkongers rose 22,022 last year, after falling to a near-record low of 7,654 in 2011.
The figures indicate that the number of renewals has increased by 40 percent each year since Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took office in 2012.
Martin Lee Chu-ming, founding chairman of the Democratic Party, suggested the trend was due to Hongkongers dissatisfied with the current political climate seeking British citizenship, however Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-kueng said that it was too early to conclude whether the rise in renewals was linked to political developments in Hong Kong.
The special passport works as a British travel document, however does not guarantee right of abode. The document allows the holder six months of visa free entry to the UK. It also allows the holder to seek assistance and protection from UK diplomatic posts.
By Dominic Jackson