Ireland is being considered as a possible location for an “international charter city” to be developed in anticipation of a mass exodus of Hong Kongers fleeing China’s tightening grasp on their home.
Ivan Ko, a Hong Kong citizen with decades of experience in real estate and property development, has reportedly been searching for places around the world to build a new version of Hong Kong since China implemented its new national security law in the city. The charter city would be designed to have its own tax regime and regulations, U.K.’s The Telegraph reported.
UK DETAILS PATHWAY TO CITIZENSHIP FOR HONG KONGERS, CHINA MAY STOP RECOGNIZING PASSPORTS
Last week, the British government outlined a new pathway to U.K. citizenship for up to 3 million eligible Hong Kongers, starting in January 2021. The change in immigration rules allows anyone with a British National Overseas passport and their immediate family members to move to the U.K. to work and study for five years. After that, they will be allowed to apply for settled status and then again for citizenship.
They will not need to have a job before arriving in the U.K.
Britain announced earlier this month it was extending residency rights for some 2.9 million people eligible for the British National Overseas passport in Hong Kong, stressing that it would uphold its duty to the former British colony after the new law was imposed. Australia also promised to give some 10,000 Hong Kongers on student and temporary visas a pathway to permanent residency.
Though the Republic of Ireland is not a part of the U.K., the country remains at the top of Ko’s list for a charter city since it has hosted special economic zones in the past, including the Shannon Free Trade Zone and the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Dublin. But plans have not been finalized, as Ireland remains a part of the European Union. Generally, European state aid rules prevent members of the bloc from giving aid to companies not available to their competitors.
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Though the U.K. and Australia may have made it easier for Hong Kongers to relocate, it remains too early to tell if there will indeed be a mass exodus from the city amid uncertainty over the national security law. Immigration consultants have reported a spike in inquiries about the possibility of leaving Hong Kong for the promise of more opportunity and a better life, the South China Morning Post reported.