Mon, 31 Oct 1994

The gloomy rock

The question of British passports for Hong Kong is coming up again.

Hong Kongers continue to emigrate at a rate of 50,000 or 60,000 a year, and the lines outside certain consulates have been growing of late. This exodus is nothing to sneeze at: It has been going on for a decade, and by now the pool of people who can jump the financial and family hurdles to qualify for foreign citizenship must be pretty well drained.

The tactical appeal of passing out British citizenship to Hong Kong's five million is clear enough: China would then face the trump card of having to win over a non-captive audience, or watch them defect en masse. But British politicians are riding the same anti-immigrant wave as the rest of the Western world, and beating a dead horse now only provokes bitter feelings when Hong Kong should be defending its fledgling democracy.

-- The Asian Wall Street Journal, Hong Kong