Even in London, supporters of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement don’t feel safe.

In January, a visa programme was introduced for Hong Kong residents with British national (overseas) status, offering them the chance to live and work in the UK, with an eventual path to British citizenship. The programme was a response to Beijing’s crackdown on opposition groups and the imposition of a sweeping national security law in the former British colony, which sharply restricted freedom of expression.

But Hong Kongers say the threats from Chinese nationalists didn’t stop, even after they crossed out of the semi-autonomous region. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), they say, continues to cast a shadow over their safety abroad.

“There’s a perception that once people are granted asylum, the problem is solved,” said Simon Cheng, a former British consulate worker in Hong Kong who claims he was tortured in China in 2019. He was granted asylum in the UK in July 2020.

“But based on the experience of myself and Hong Kong people who are living in or moving to the UK, being away from Hong Kong doesn’t lessen our fear of safety.”

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