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Why Enough Hong Kongers to Fill Belfast May Flee to the U.K.

  • More than 300,000 expected to leave as Beijing cracks down
  • Mass exodus could shape futures of both Hong Kong and U.K.
The U.K. expects some 322,000 Hong Kong residents to take advantage of the pathway to citizenship over the next five years.

The U.K. expects some 322,000 Hong Kong residents to take advantage of the pathway to citizenship over the next five years.

Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg
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When the U.K. starts accepting special visa applications from Hong Kong residents on Sunday, Chen will be among the first in line. The 40-year-old former Airbnb host believes time is running out as local officials urge action to discourage people from relocating to their former colonial homeland.

“If we don’t leave now, we many never be able to leave again,” Chen, who asked not to be identified by his full name due to fear of reprisal by the government, said in an interview Thursday. He and his wife plan to leave immediately and hope to settle in Brighton, because, “like Hong Kong, it’s near the sea.”