Chinese sleeper agents are trying to enter the UK through a scheme designed for Hong Kongers fleeing the city, report says
- Chinese agents are trying to enter the UK with a visa designed to give refuge to Hong Kongers.
- Sources told The Times agents try use the visa introduced after China's new
national security law.
- It is not clear if any have been successful, and the UK government said it has a strict vetting process.
Chinese spies are taking advantage of a visa program designed for people trying to escape
The UK government this year opened a new visa program for Hong Kongers with British National Overseas (BNO) passports after China imposed a draconian national security law on the city last year. More than 300,000 people have applied for that visa, The Times reported.
UK government sources told The Times that Chinese sleeper agents have applied for the visa. It is not clear if any have been able to access the UK as a result.
The sources told The Times: "There are stringent background checks in place for the visa applications - and they're in place for a reason. The vetting process for the BNO visa scheme is much more thorough than any other."
The UK Home Office told the Times: "There are safeguards in place throughout the application process to ensure it is free from abuse and helps those most in need. The BNO visa route reflects the UK's historic and moral commitment to the people of Hong Kong."
Earlier this month President Joe Biden also signed a memorandum to offer Hong Kongers in the US safe haven from China.
The security law punishes whatever China deems is secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with foreign forces. Those convicted under the law could face up to life in jail.
The Hong Kong police has arrested numerous pro-democracy activists under the law already.
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