China’s recent curtailing of individual freedom in Hong Kong and the UK’s decision to offer a new Hong Kong BN(O) Visa has once again highlighted the fundamental attraction of the UK as a safe and secure location. British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) citizens ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, and their immediate family members, are entitled to move to the UK to work and study.
China’s Great Firewall has become a thing of internet legend but is part of a greater authoritarian drive. The country ranks third from the worst in the 2020 world press freedom index, and it was 126th out of 162 countries in 2019 on the Human Freedom Index, which takes into consideration movement, rule of law, and security. For years China has faced criticism over its human rights violations and government control, and their attempt at Fazhi, a country under the rule of law, only created further criticism as their version is not what is universally understood as the Rule of Law.
The Rule of Law is the authority by which every individual must obey and submit to the law, and no one is above it. It is a rule which protects citizens against their Government treating them unfairly or depriving them of their rights. In the UK, our rights are protected through the Human Rights Act of 1998.
In China, Fazhi is officially called the “socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics”, and whilst the government encourage Fazhi and enjoy the sense of a published law followed by the people, the nature of government means those in the highest levels of the Party do, in many ways, have protection from it.
The UK’s Rule of Law boasts an accountable government that underpins a more open and fair society. The UK also has tighter legislation around security and data protection. The Data Protection Act of 2019 ensures all data is protected and used fairly, lawfully, and transparently, and surveillance is used for safety, with content only accessed under a warrant. These laws are part of a legal infrastructure that makes the UK reliable and safe and are at odds with the regimes of stricter jurisdictions.
The resulting environment delivers a much freer way of life to live, work, and study that consistently ranks highly on its quality of life, liveable cities, education, economy, and human rights. It’s always a work in progress but ask anyone who settles here why they have chosen the UK and they will refer to the ‘fair play’ and broad education the country offers as being key to the decision to settle their family here. These factors underpin the UK way of life, the rule of law and ability to preserve our way of thinking. They also remain vital for being safe and settled.